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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s Story #78 Still camped beside SR-9, some more random thoughts, and our first really successful looting operation SHTF and TEOTWAWKI

June 25, 2013

As night crew sleeps the day crew guards the camp. For the most part, we attempt not to change the convoy crew rotation and routine. Bill, the Scouts and their escorts took off just before sunrise. I watched them leave as I was exiting the radio tent. I hope that they do not get into any serious trouble.

A passable stew, or maybe this shit is supposed to be a chili, is supper for Shack; breakfast for me. I did not get any bay leaves in my bowl this time, so I am guessing this is supposed to be a chili of some sort. Unless, the cooks are out of bay leaves, which is a possibility. The total lack of any spices makes it hard to identify just what kind of edible slop this is supposed to be.

The cooks ran out of most spices a long time ago. A little spice would undoubtedly pick this food out of the blah, dull zone and into a somewhat tastier region. At least a change would be welcome to the same bland shit we eat every day. We have lacked spices such as black pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin in our food for some time now. We have also exhausted our supplies of bottled hot sauce as well as any other condiment such as mustard, and ketchup. Iodized, kosher and pickling salt are still in plentiful supply, which is fortunate as salt is vital to the health.

This evening’s chili, stew (mush, or whatever the fuck it is) contains at least three kinds of beans and the last of the canned corn (baby, hominy and whole kernel) or, so I am told. The chili or stew tonight also contains some kind of finely chopped, unidentifiable meat. The meat could be squirrel, rabbit, or venison all of which we have recently eaten.

I have noticed lately that our meals have slowly contained less and less meat. Fresh meat is highly perishable and now in extremely short supply. As the cold weather worsens, edible critters (as Shack refers to them) are becoming exceedingly scarce. Sometimes a particularly large, tough piece of meat or a chunk of gristle escapes into our food.

Lacking a meat grinder, our cooks have to chop meat by hand. Having to render carcasses has destroyed any squeamishness on the part of the cooks. Hunger will quickly erase any particularities someone might have about eating meat. Vegetarianism is the vanity of an affluent society. Starvation quickly erases any vegetarians and even those of us whom at one time or another might have attempted to maintain a distinct diet.

The cooks have gotten particularly adept at rendering various animal carcasses as quickly as possible. Nothing edible is wasted as even the bones are boiled for stock. Lately though the hunters and gatherers have been unlucky. There used to be a fair number of small pygmy rabbits, once protected in Washington state I am told. The small rabbits were fairly easy prey, but apparently we have eaten all the rabbits and other small game in this area. Just another reason that it is time for us to move.

Longfeather believes that the nuclear winter is going to get much worse. He believes that most of the animals are migrating to lower, warmer climates. The sudden cold has caused the plants to go back into hibernation as the nuclear winter settles over everything. Up here in the hills, soon it is going to be too cold for most animals.

The days are getting noticeably cooler, usually in the low to mid 40s °F. The mornings are still frosty with a light hoar-frost on most surfaces. The nights are getting colder, now hovering around the 35°F point. With even the slightest amount of wind, temperatures easily drop below freezing at night. The frequent winds are biting cold and drop the temperature noticeably. Occasionally, we have exceptionally strong cold winds along with light rain and hail giving us horizontal precipitation.

Frequent, cold, light drizzling rain with light hail occasionally mixed in with the rain soaks the convoy personnel almost daily. The frequent light hail is tinged brown or black. The cobalt blue lightning has become more frequent and getting stronger. The thunder is high and far away, but still can be faintly heard. Occasional snow flurries have drifted over us dumping a light dusting of dirty snow. The snow is getting noticeably dirtier. The hills and mountains around us are blanketed in a creeping mantle of dingy, white snow that gets lower every time I look. I guess that anywhere above 3,000 feet right now has snow upon the ground.

As I have mentioned before, we have not seen any wildlife for some time. Hunting and foraging have lately produced remarkably little of worth. What few animals were here have either long fled or were already eaten. Since hunting and gathering have been so poor, we might even get desperate enough to attempt an opossum or a raccoon again if someone happens upon one.

I am starting to sympathize with the Bosnians who ate their pets, then the city rats, city pigeons, and anything else they could catch. There has been some heated debate about eating the numerous feral dogs running around. Shack and I agree that the thought of eating Fido is not appealing at all. Fido may look tastier when we get hungrier and more desperate.

Our scavengers have not been able to locate any edible plants like mushrooms for some time. I have always heard this area was supposed to be famous for its bounty of edible mushrooms. A few black morels, blue chanterelles, and fairy ring mushrooms were occasionally found. Not enough mushrooms have ever been found to make any real difference in meals. The sudden cold might have something to do with the lack of mushrooms.

Still our scavengers are well supplied with mushroom and other edible plant field guides sourced from abandoned homes and bookstores. Had I not looked in the field guides myself, I would have never been able to tell you what mushrooms were edible or not. I absolutely had no clue what plants are edible or not around here.

It would be quite enjoyable if our scavengers came across a loaded fruit stand or something similar, miraculously missed. I am getting sick and tired of dandelion and spruce tip teas. I do not care if they are beneficial for me, or not, weed and pine tree teas are not exactly my favorite and not something that I would normally consider drinking. The recent lack of any kind of sweetener has made the teas a real challenge to swallow.

Our cooks are running seriously low on nearly all supplies. We ran out of rice weeks ago. I cannot remember the last time we had bread of any fashion. We still have cases of MREs. There has been some grumbling about the colonels holding onto the large supply of MREs. The colonels have not yet explained why they are not issuing the MREs.

Except in limited numbers to the Scouts, and those on guard duty, the colonels have not broken into the large quantity of sealed MRE cases in the trucks. Despite the grumbling, most of the soldiers and the few civilians in the convoy understand that, in some way, there are probably extremely legitimate reasons the colonels are not issuing the MREs for the entire convoy.

Usually MREs are the last thing that soldiers want to eat. Even the newer, improved American MREs, which are far better than the earlier versions, were not a popular culinary item for soldiers, at least in normal times. In the midst of a zombie apocalypse, MREs are superb dining and are in extremely high demand.

Our few civilians mention that some of the first looting occurring in the greater Seattle area was done at the few military surplus stores that were rumored to have MREs in stock. Within the first 36 hours,  most of the stores that had MREs and other packaged meals were quickly looted. They told me that even the mere rumor of MREs or other packaged long shelf term meals was enough to cause a riot.

The utter chaos of those early days is hard to describe in writing adequately. The unprecedented speed that the KCAP virus spread and how quickly it killed destroyed whole countries in days. The complete and utter chaos and panic is hard to describe in mere words. Eventually, even the riots died out because there were not enough healthy people to create them. What few survivors are left avoid other people and try to survive eating what they can.

I have eaten my fair share of MREs and civilian freeze dried camping meals. The last civilian freeze dried meal I ate was while I was attempting to escape from SeaTac Airport. As a little girl, when I still lived in Israel, I ate some of the older American C and K rations, which despite their age were still quite tasty. Fresh food is but a fond memory.

The civilian freeze dried camping meals are also in high demand. Most freeze dried meals do not taste too poorly; recent technology has tremendously improved the flavor and texture. Our Scout lads mentioned that almost every camping and outdoor retail store was heavily looted; most are now burnt out husks. Cold weather gear is a high priority (I never realized how precious a warm blanket could be). Any kind of food is the number one trade item, followed by medicine, weapons, ammunition, cold weather gear and personal armor.

Old Vietnam-era flak jackets, modern bullet proof vests, and various sporting protective gear such as for American football, baseball, roller skating, and off road bicycle riding are commonly spotted among the survivors. Anything that protects from the bite of a zombie is strapped on. Thankfully human teeth are woefully inadequate at penetrating most heavy materials otherwise the sports gear, and light personal armor might not protect the wearer.

Most of the military convoy personnel kit includes matching personal armor as well as cold weather gear. With the exception of the few foreign military members, the few US Marines in MARPAT, and the couple of US Air Force personnel, most of the convoy is uniformly outfitted in either current or recent US Army battle wear.

It is not unusual at all to see not only drab military cold weather gear, but brightly-colored civilian cold weather gear as well as the innumerable camouflage patterned hunting clothes worn by people who have likely never hunted or ever served in the military. Even the despised short lived pixelated US Navy blue-gray camouflage is frequently seen among survivors.

The outdoor and sporting goods supply stores like REI, Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Dick’s and Sports Authority were quickly looted for outdoor cooking apparatuses, outdoor survival gear, cold weather gear, and camping food. I understand, from several survivors that there were some seriously heated pitched battles over some of the larger retail locations like REI, Cabela’s and Bass Pro.

While contemplating life as it is now, I take another spoonful of my chili/mush slop. With nearly 100 mouths to feed, the easiest and quickest method is soups, chili and stews. But, God we are sick of soups, chili and stews. My mouth salivates at the thought of a dripping, greasy cheeseburger or a ginormous fat, medium-rare steak. Another dream is a loaded baked potato monstrosity dripping butter, overstuffed with sour cream, bacon bits, and chives. In reality, those meals are probably a thing of the past.

I try not to torture myself dwelling on those pleasant memories, but sometimes I cannot help it. The other evening we had small hot cakes with fake maple syrup and one pound size hot dogs. No butter for the hot cakes, and no mustard or relish for the hot dogs, but it was one of the better meals we have eaten in some time. Most of the Army guys, I noticed, rolled up their hot dogs in the pancake and ate it like a burrito. I opted to eat mine separate.

The large hot dogs that we ate the other night were some that were canned in glass jars. Just out of curiosity I would have liked to have seen the jars that the hot dogs came out of. I thought I detected a hint of garlic and spices, but boiled in a large common kettle, I was not sure. When I was craving kosher hot dogs, I liked Able’s and Hyman the best.

Amy did not truly care for hot dogs, which had nothing to do with her sexual orientation. She just did not care for the taste or the texture of hot dogs. Juvenile teasing aside, since Amy despised hot dogs, I often ate them when I was away from her. Thankfully, there were quite a few kosher delis, in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

The hot dogs we ate the other day I understand were the last of the canned meat that the convoy possessed. Canned goods are bulky, heavy and take up a lot of room in the vehicles. Glass jars are problematic because glass shatters easily and they are also heavy. I was surprised to hear that we still had glass jars of food. I thought surely that we would have eaten anything in glass first to reduce the chance of it shattering and spoiling the precious food.

More nasty, hot, spruce tip tea washed the hot dogs and pancakes down. Although, I consider myself Jewish rather than Arab, I did not even bother asking if the hot dogs were kosher or halal, which I seriously doubted. Several times, since the KCAP pandemic, I have eaten things that I once thought that I would never eat.

Canned corned beef, various flavors of Spam, canned tuna (I especially hate Spam and canned tuna); pickled artichoke hearts and deviled meat are some of the most memorable, and disgusting meals. We just recently ate the canned and bottled food items, saving them for last despite their weight and bulk. The more perishable food stuffs, no matter how disgusting, were eaten first. I hope I never again, in my life, ever see canned okra. Thinking of it now, the canned asparagus was pretty disgusting too.

Starving in the midst of a zombie apocalypse is no time to be dietary picky. I have heard some of the other soldiers talking about eating canned dog and cat food. They mention repeatedly an old post-apocalyptic 1982 movie in which the black leather wearing main character consumes canned dog food with relish.

Apparently, if you get hungry enough, you will also eat the meat-like bagged jerky treats for dogs, as well. Some of the soldiers talk as if they had tried eating some of the dog treats. I am not yet hungry enough to consider even eating anything meant as a dog or cat treat. The mere idea gives me the shudders, not to mention the total gross out factor.

The rest of day passes uneventfully I assume as I slept through it. Since no one and nothing woke me, I assume that nothing eventful happened.

Shack wakes me with another abso-fucking-lutely disgusting cup of the hot spruce tip tea. Good tea (or coffee for those so inclined) is another thing we ran out of weeks ago. What I would give for some of my choice Pu-erh teas. While I sip and grimace, he gives me the quick rundown of the day’s events. Reluctantly getting out of the warm bedroll, I pour some water from a desert tan, three liter canteen into a plastic bowl.

I find the small Army green washcloth hanging beside our toiletry kit underneath a small plastic mirror. Wetting the wash cloth in the cold water, I quickly wipe myself while Shack talks. The cold washrag raises goose bumps on my skin, and I start shivering.

Looking in the small mirror at Shack behind me, I see that his eyes are sunken and dark from lack of sleep. My face fares no better I note. If I had any makeup to use, I think that even the best makeup could not cover the naked exhaustion on my face. At least Shack does not turn beet red anymore at the sight of my nude body.

The camp has taken to bird bathing as we do not have enough fuel for hot showers. What I would give for a piping hot soaking tub right now! I did try to push Shack’s buttons a little bit by asking him to wash my back. Lifting my long braid of hair, and flipping it over my left shoulder, I felt his warm breath on my neck while he lightly ran the cold washrag around my back being careful to avoid my bottom.

I turned in Shack’s arms and proceeded to give him a righteous good morning snog. I guess I pushed it too far though because suddenly Shack became very stiff in my arms, grunting lightly in my mouth. Shack suddenly released me and stepped back so suddenly he almost tripped over our cot. I noticed a spreading wetness around his crotch highly visible on the light desert tan fabric.

“Oh man,” was all an unusually red-faced Shack said. Shack was red all the way to his ears.

I slip into Shack’s arms again and kiss him lightly on the cheek. Shack does not even react when I pull his head into my bare breasts. The short stubble of Shack’s military regulation high and tight hair cut prickle my sensitive breasts. Shack is well over six feet tall, so the top of his head when sitting on the cot, is about even with the top of my breasts.

“Do not worry about it, some girls might even consider that a compliment,” I tell him.

“But, I uh … you know, in my pants.”

“It is ok Shack. You are young and full of youthful ardor. Why do you think dirty old ladies like young men for lovers –it is your incredible ability to recover plus your ability to do it more often. I bet that I could get you hard again. It is rather unfair that you got to, but you leave me hanging.”

Dejectedly, Shack flops onto our bedroll on his back, so I begin to dress, realizing that the moment has passed. I am not so much in the mood anyway. I am far too tired. While I could use a good roll in the hay, I am much tireder than horny. I just want a hot bath and sleep without having to worry about zombies with the munchies.

Shack tells me that a few zombies wandered into the tangle foot traps and were quickly and silently dispatched by the guards. Thankfully, zombies have no concept of personal preservation. A zombie might see another zombie killed, and it will still proceed to do the same thing that got the previous zombie killed.

None of the zombies made it to the AP mines, which I appreciated as it did not disturb my sleep. Sleep is precious in a natural disaster and is one of the hardest commodities to acquire. I am fortunate that I am with a group of well-disciplined and organized people. They might not have quite planned for this sort of natural disaster, but they are probably some of the best equipped to deal with it.

A zombie apocalypse is the mother fucker of all natural disasters – only this one is not natural since KCAP is a man-made virus. Everyone used to think short term for natural disasters – 72 hours at the most. But when the disaster is a man-made fuck up of this magnitude, 72 hours are a mere pipe dream.

Most of the preppers and nut job survivor types were wiped out almost immediately either by looters or their neighbors. Most of those nimrods made the mistake of bragging to their neighbors and everyone else about how they were stocked, with enough ammo and weapons, to outfit a third world nation. Had a generator with enough fuel for a year, and food for a year or whatever else they flapped their lips about.

The smart survival types quietly stockpiled not letting another soul outside of their immediate family know. Those were the survivors, who lasted a little while, at least until the first encounter with better armed and more desperate looters. As any soldier knows, your battle plan survives until first contact with the enemy. No battle plan ever survives intact first contact with the enemy.

Shack informs me that Bill and the Scouts plus their escort, returned about a half hour ago. It turns out that Bill is legit. They returned with a commercial fuel tanker carrying about 7,000 gallons of red dyed agricultural diesel. Shack tells me that the crew is still unloading the cargo trucks, everyone who is able is eager to pitch in.

Shack also tells me solemnly that the Scouts lost a member who was bitten in the leg by a crawler that no one spotted until too late. I did not know the dead young man but had seen him around the camp before. Memorial service is TBD; right now the body is being placed in the medical tent. I do not even bother to ask who made sure the unfortunate individual would not rise as a zombie.

With nearly everyone helping to unload, it does not take long to empty the trucks. After the trucks are unloaded, the Colonels quickly divvy the goods among the crew. The kitchen gets quite the haul of food stuffs, including several large piles of canned and boxed foods. Shack says quite a lot of Hamburger Helper was recovered whatever the hell that is.

Not sure what we are going to do with something called Hamburger Helper since we do not have any hamburger. I shudder at the thought of what the cooks are going to do with something named to help another culinary item.

It takes the three cooks and their driver/guard a while to haul all the food to their truck and trailer. For security sake to prevent pilfering, the cooks and their guard/driver move the food stuffs themselves. There is much happiness and cheerful enthusiasm watching the cooks haul off the food supplies. Hopefully our diet is about to improve drastically.

The two drug stores, one on either side of the highway, were priority targets, so they were emptied first. The drug stores had been lightly looted at least once before, but there was still some terrific material recovered. The lads say that nearly all of the loose narcotics, psychotropic and mood altering drugs were already stolen. Medical supplies are not as abundant, so anything is useful. The medical supplies all go to the medical tent.

It does not take Terrance and Jamal long to sort and store the medical supplies. Jamal takes careful notes on his clip board noting where each piece of medical gear is stored. While most of the supplies were over the counter (OTC) medicines, there were some specialty medicines recovered. Not sure if we are going to need the specialty medications like Lipitor, Levitra, and Cialis.

Terrance and Jamal stack the specialty medications in with everything else; as they might be worth something in trade. A locked and reinforced metal cabinet in the drug store contained a large supply of Adderall, Soma, Valium, Vicodin and Xanax. The boys who recovered the drugs say that someone had tried to bust the cabinet open. Although mangled and dented the cabinet held against the previous looters.

To cut open the heavy reinforced medicine cabinet, our lads had to use air tools powered by yellow, portable CO2 tanks. All of the large bright yellow CO2 bottles are now getting refilled on the racks in the idling HEMTTs. The CO2 powered air tools are a real Godsend to the scavengers, whom we have taken to callings “scavs.” One of many drawbacks to the air tools, though, is that many of them are so damned loud which attracts way too much zombie attention.

Our scavs have done an excellent job recovering materials, zombies or not. We may try to paint a pretty picture, calling it materials and recovery, but face it, we are looters. Our scavs are doing the best they can to recover useful materials. Thankfully our scavs are better armed, trained and outfitted than most.

The various prescription drugs are tucked away with the rest of the medical kit. The OTC medicines will help, but I also hear Shack say that several crates of narcotics and other formerly controlled medicines were recovered from secured lockers. I overhear that some of the scavs recovered some ancient Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup in little five-inch tall clear glass bottles.

Doc says that the syrup is straight liquor with a heavy shot of opium otherwise known as laudanum. Doc had never seen a full bottle. He had only read about the rather famous narcotic once given to children. He also said that the stuff is supposed to contain as much as 65 mg of morphine sulfate per fluid ounce. If we have someone seriously injured, it might come in handy for surgery. Supposedly banned since Prohibition, the syrup was a real surprise and was squirreled away in case of need.

In with the medical supplies were quite a few contraceptives. Shack, informs me (while turning a little redder around the ears), that Doc Jamal announced that he will issue contraceptives to anyone requesting them. I make a mental note to ask Doc about getting a Depo-Provera shot, should he have some available.

Shack tells me that a large, glass gold fish bowl filled with all kinds of condoms has been placed in the mess/command tent. The goldfish bowl is filled to nearly overflowing with every conceivable kind and brand of condom. Shack explains that there are also female condoms in the bowl. Shack describes some of the hilarity that ensued when the novelty condoms are discovered in the goldfish bowl.

Shack turns beat red describing the teasing and joking going on in the command tent about the novelty condoms. I ask Shack if he has ever used a condom that glowed in the dark, or one that was ribbed for my pleasure. Shack turns even redder if you can believe it, discussing the various condoms. He shakes his head no when I ask if he has ever used a condom.

I get a firm “no way in hell”, when I ask if he wore a red glow in the dark condom and another soldier wore a glowing blue condom if they would sword fight for me. Ok, so Shack is a little homophobic, not uncommon in military youth. I was teasing him anyway, and I kiss his cheek. That is when he drops the bombshell that he would use a condom with me. Shit! I had never considered using a condom with Shack. Then he goes on to mention that he might need some help getting it on correctly.

Well shit, I should have thought of that as Shack is still a virgin and probably missed sex ed in school. I tell him not to worry about it, and I assure him that condoms are almost soldier proof and fairly easy to use. I kiss him on the cheek and tell him that I look forward to teaching him how to use a condom which makes Shack turn even redder. Of course, then I had to push it too far and ask about personal lubricant.

Shack sputters and mumbles something about perverted stuff from the drug stores. Fuck, I did not even ask about marital aides. I wonder if any of those particular items was recovered from the drug stores. Just what does Shack consider perverted, I wonder?

The two drug stores were also a gold mine for snack foods, beer, wine, as well as many small, home remedies. Bottles of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, nail polish remover, various cough syrups and other medicines, if not used by the convoy, may make excellent trade items. Shack says that Doc Jamal and Mike had a rather lengthy and heated discussion regarding the disposal of the nail polish remover.

Mike wants to pour the acetone into the fuel tanks of the M35 2.5 ton 6×6 trucks to help thin out the used motor oil that they have been burning. Jamal does not think the gallon or so total of acetone recovered is enough to be worth pouring into the M35s. The reason that the convoy specifically chose the older M35 trucks is because their engines, which can burn just about any, type of fuel, with a few caveats.

The newer trucks, like the snow plow, HEMTTs and the Strykers had to meet EPA requirements, which the older M35s did not. The snow plow, Strykers and HEMTTs can only be run on diesel, jet A, or kerosene. Attempting to run used motor oil in the newer, electronically controlled Caterpillar engines in the Strykers, HEMTTs and snow plow will kill them quickly, or, so I am told.

The M35’s older multi-fuel, turbo and supercharged, straight six, all mechanical LDT 465-1 engines are dead simple to work on (or so I am told again). With no electronics and a manual, five speed transmission with overdrive, they are supposedly fairly easy to repair. The M35’s LDT engines have the ability to burn various fuels such as used motor oil, gasoline, kerosene, straight vegetable oil (SVO), jet fuel, diesel, and even blends of various fuels.

Aviation gasoline is not recommended, although the lads tell me that if they locate some, you can bet my ass it is going into the M35’s tanks in small quantities. Jet A, diesel and kerosene are the preferred fuels for the M35 trucks. The guys tell me that straight gasoline is also not recommended but that it can be blended with other fuels in small quantities. With the cruddy straight used motor oil that the LDT engines have been running, a small amount of gasoline mixed in would probably be beneficial for the engines, injector pumps and injectors.

The M35 trucks smoke like a bastard no matter what fuel they run. The lads told me they had to reconnect something called a fuel density compensator. The M35s were in service for many, many years. Various versions of the M35 trucks even languished in service in several reserve units right up until the KCAP pandemic.

Hopefully, since Canada also used the M35 truck (manufactured by Bombardier, the lads tell me) for many years, spare parts and replacements may be fairly easy to acquire up there. Digesting a steady diet of nasty used motor oil, even filtered as best it can be, the boys are not sure how long the engines are going to last. The M35 trucks, while in military service, previously ran on diesel fuel only.

Indeed, several of the M35 trucks bear brass label plates that read “diesel fuel only” in several strategic locations. The lads say that with the fuel compensator thingy reconnected; the LDT engines can once again burn different fuels. They all agree that used motor oil is probably the worst thing that they could burn for fuel, followed by straight gasoline and aviation gas.

Gasoline of any variety has been in exceedingly short supply and is almost nonexistent now. Used motor oil, however, taken from abandoned cars has been quite prevalent. Each abandoned car provides about four to six quarts of used motor oil. With thousands of abandoned cars, our Scouting and scavenging parties recover several gallons of used motor oil daily. The main problem with running used motor oil is that it quickly clogs the fuel filters in the trucks. At present, there are remarkably few replacement fuel filters.

Restaurants and fast food stores are raided for vegetable oil, which as a motor fuel, has another whole list of problems. The main problem with the used vegetable oil is it has to be strained or filtered. All vegetable oil has to be heated before the engine can burn it. Mike and the mechanically handy lads rig up preheater systems to heat the used cooking oil, but filtering the cold oil is problematic.

Right now the used vegetable oil is getting strained through discarded old clothes and then mixed with the used motor oil in the M35s. The LDT engines, once warmed to normal operating temperature, can run on SVO with the rigged preheater system. The fresh vegetable oil is being used for cooking at least once before it gets used as fuel.

Acetone in the fuel tanks might thin and clean the fuel system just a little bit according to Mike. He argues that a little acetone might clean the fuel filters a little. Jamal wants to keep the acetone in the medical kit for now. Perhaps later they may use the acetone for something else but for now Jamal is holding on to it. Defeated and obviously unhappy with Jamal’s decision, Mike walks away to supervise the fueling of the Strykers, HEMTTs and the snow plow assisted by Rick. Jamal continues assisting Terrance in inventorying and cataloging the medical supplies.

Several bottles of iodine and OTC remedies like Pepto-Bismol and Tums are welcome additions. Our diet is rather bland so I cannot imagine needing stomach medications. Antidiarrheal medicines, as well as several suppository medicines, get some wry remarks from the crew, but they may come in handy for the pregnant women. Prenatal and daily multivitamins are also recovered. Terrance and Doc discuss whether to give everyone a multivitamin every day or on alternate days.

Our recent addition, the Johansen family, informs us that what little trading occurs, not only is medicine, food, weapons and ammo, armor, and cold weather gear in high demand, but also are many of the once illicit drugs. Particularly mood altering drugs which people can use to escape their current situation are high in demand and get premium value as a trade item.

Psychedelics and narcotics are particularly in high demand with marijuana and heroin being the most prevalent. The Johansen family explains how some of the surviving illicit drug dealers managed to live well for a while peddling their wares just as they did before KCAP. Unfortunately, many of the drug dealers were unprepared to defend either their home or their supply from large crowds of desperate people.

Some of the drug dealers, I am told by the Johansen’s, also ran afoul of the cannibals, who are quite content with their situation and do not require mood altering drugs. However, fresh meat that walks into their compound was most welcome. Other drug dealers had supply issues. When they ran out of whatever crap they sold, they suffered the wrath of their previous customers.

Tomorrow, a second trip, is planned to recover the rest of the supplies. An automotive supply store was briefly scouted and appeared to have been only lightly looted. Several bottles of fuel and motor oil additives, some various bottles of conventional motor oil, and several small hand tools were grabbed quickly. A pair of 50 foot reels of thin black rubber fuel hose was also grabbed.

Tomorrow, the crew plans to empty the automotive supply store. The automotive supply store, once part of a large national chain, might have several replacement fuel filters for the M35’s LDT engines. If not, Bill says he knows the location of a large Napa not too far north of here. This particular Napa he describes specialized in farm and tractor supplies. The colonels agree that any automotive supply store is worth investigating.

Beside the automotive store briefly scouted and looted yesterday is a tire store, which is also on the looting schedule for tomorrow. The Scouts say that the tire store appears almost untouched and could provide spare tires for the entire convoy with the exception of the Strykers, HEMTTs and likely the snow plow.

Mike and the other mechanically inclined lads are most anxious to loot the tire and automotive supply stores. Rick, who is going along in the snow plow for the first time, hopes the automotive store might have hydraulic hoses and hydraulic fluid for his much abused truck. Bill mentions that if this automotive store does not have hydraulic hoses, there is a exceptionally strong chance that the Stilly Napa will have them.

Since another trip is warranted, the colonels decide to remain in this camp site for another day at least. Fortunately this camp site is far enough from the road and deep enough in the forest that, with minimal light and noise discipline, this camp is difficult to find. No camp is absolutely safe though, and our guards are rotated frequently to ensure that they are not too fatigued to remain alert.

A larger recovery force is being sent tomorrow to empty all of the stores in one shot. This requirement means that we are also changing routines and schedules. For several of these people, including Rick, Shack and I, it will be our first time on a recovery run.

Some of the new people will pull guard duty tomorrow to supplement the perimeter guards, several who are being pulled to enforce the recovery crew. Convoy members with combat or military experience are being chosen to join this large force which will comprise more than a third of our company. Shen, Longfeather and Nikola, are also coming along as they are veteran Special Forces soldier.

Carol and Sarah will watch the radio shack tomorrow. Sarah is incredibly gravid. Doc says she could be due any day now. Sarah has been on bed rest almost continually since she joined the convoy, but she does need an occasional walk to stretch and more than just to the latrine. There are some off-color jokes, about putting two of the most pregnant women together in the radio shack, but nobody pays them any mind. There are too many other things to do right now.

Material and goods are being shuffled by several small working parties emptying several of the M35 trucks. All the M35s in the convoy are cargo trucks. Every possible storage nook and cranny is being surveyed and either utilized immediately or identified for later use. The trucks previously used for passenger hauling and even the snow plow are going to be employed tomorrow to retrieve what could be one of our best hauls.

One of the HEMTT 985s is going along tomorrow because the crane on its tail could come in handy at the tire store. Rather than lift tires singularly on to the trucks, the crane on the HEMTT can lift whole racks of tires. Having the HEMTT along will also increase the number of air tools that can be utilized. The CO2 scavenging system on the HEMTT can refill the yellow gas bottles nearly as fast as the lads can empty them. The twin .50 M2HB mount in the roof of the HEMTT will also be a welcome addition to the recovery crew.

As the evening progresses and the vital goods such as medicine and food are stored, the colonels begin to divvying up some of the remaining goods. A small crowd hovers around the colonels and the pile of recovered supplies eagerly watching.

Bill, Mike, Rick and their assistants, refuel the Strykers, HEMTTs and the snow plow first. After those vehicles are full, then the other diesel vehicles in order of need. I.E. – those vehicles with the lowest fuel tanks get fuel first. There is enough ag diesel to fill the fuel tanks on the HEMTTs, but not enough to fill the HEMTT 978 tankers. At Mike’s urging, each of the M35 trucks receives approximately five gallons of ag diesel. Mike hopes that the little bit of diesel will help clean the injectors and pumps.

Several boxes of various motor oils, fuel and oil additives and automotive filters are also stored in one of the HEMTTs while it is being refueled. Each of the drug stores had a small automotive section which was quickly looted. It does not appear that any of the automotive filters fit any of the convoy vehicles, but they are kept for possible trade or use later. I overhear some of the lads talking about using the oil filters for improvised suppressors if nothing else.

There is enough of the ag diesel fuel that Carol’s and my truck each get enough to fill our main tanks. Carol’s truck does not have an auxiliary fuel tank in the bed as my truck does so after our main tanks are full; the last of the ag diesel went into the 114 gallon aux tank in the bed of my truck giving it nearly three-quarters of a full tank.

My truck has the option of running from the aux tank directly, or I can have the auxiliary tank transfer fuel to the main tank. I can also alternatively set the aux tank so that it automatically transfers fuel to the main tank when the main tank is half empty. I also have a 12 volt powered pump and fuel nozzle with a 10-foot fueling hose that I can use to transfer fuel to another vehicle.

A blue LED digital dash board box sitting on top of the dash board in the left corner indicates total amount of fuel on board. By flipping through the screens and options, I can select the mode of operation and choose display options. It is a exceptionally neat system, and fairly intuitive to understand. Good thing too, because there is no manual or guide for the system in the truck.

With the press of a button on the small box, I can either switch to the aux tank or transfer fuel from the aux tank to the main tank. I have never heard of the company, Transfer Flow that makes this fueling system, but it must not have been cheap. I feel a little guilty knowing the former owner invested so much money into his (I assume it was a man, but it could have been a woman) truck.

I am most thankful for the older Dodge truck, which is a much better choice than the little Smart car I had before. The Smart car, while getting impressive fuel mileage, had too many electronics and environmental controls. The new diesel electronics are almost impossible to bypass without particular tools, which are not available now. When things like the diesel particulate filter failed or the diesel particulate filter fluid ran out, the Smart car would not have operated, and I would have been stranded.

The little Smart car also was not as robust of a vehicle that you need during a zombie apocalypse. The immense Dodge 3500 Big Horn addition is a 2005 model according to the door sticker. Thankfully the large Dodge is a manual and has remarkably few EPA mandated smog controls like on later models.

The four doors on the Dodge’s cab are handy even if the rear doors are a little smaller than the front. I am not too happy about the dual rear wheels, but with the large 5th wheel hitch in the bed, the previous owner obviously used this vehicle to tow. I do appreciate the large cattle guard bumper on the front with its large heavy duty winch. I shudder to think how much zombie goo is stuck in the coiled strands of the winch line.

After emptying itself into the aux tank in the bed of my Dodge truck, the empty fuel tanker is prepped for tomorrow. Bill says that he knows of a large dairy farm nearby that has a large underground fuel storage tank. Just before KCAP ravaged the area, this dairy had received an ag diesel delivery of a little more than 1,500 gallons. Bill also wants to check a few of the nearby commercial fueling stations.

According to Bill, the commercial sites have somewhat different equipment, which the average joe just might not be able to figure out. Bill knows of three card locked commercial fueling sites near the Lake Stevens area that he wants to check for fuel. He knows that his company kept all three filled with various grades of diesel and gasoline.

Bill also mentions that northbound, near the city of Arlington, is another commercial fueling site once supplied by his company. This site not only provided gasoline and diesel (both ag and Over The Road (OTR)) but also biodiesel, kerosene, and methanol. If no one has done something stupid like punch a hole in the tanks, or blown the site up, there might be several thousand gallons of fuel at the sites. If nothing else it is worth a look, just for the possibility of fuel.

Just what the hell would we do with methanol? The little Smart car that I stole from SeaTac Airport had a straight three cylinder diesel engine with a water and methanol injection system on it. Not one of the vehicles in the convoy has a similar system. We could mix it with gasoline I know, but none of the vehicles in the convoy run on gasoline. I will leave the quandary of methanol up to Bill and the other mechanically inclined people.

After refueling, Bill, Mike, and some of the other mechanically handy lads, go around with various bottles of fuel and oil additives. I understand they used about half of the additives recovered. Vehicle crankcase and transmission oil levels are checked. Almost every vehicle gets something tossed in the fuel tank and either into the crankcase or transmission oil. The empty, brightly colored bottles quickly pile up around the campsite.

Little white tin bottles of Sea Foam, various STP additives in red and blue plastic bottles, and additives by the major manufacturers like Chevron and Texaco quickly are emptied into the appropriate vehicle holes. Not sure if the oil additives are going to help much, but I suppose they cannot hurt either. Since there is little chance of any maintenance, maybe some crankcase oil additives will be beneficial for the neglected engines.

Most of the fuel and oil additives I have never heard of. I have also never used any of them. I trusted my mechanic to maintain my beloved little Lotus. He never said anything about pouring a bottle of something called “Marvel Mystery Oil” into the fuel tank. A few of the M35’s fuel tanks get a red plastic bottle or two of the stuff poured in their fuel tanks, which I suspect is some kind of snake oil.

I chuckle though as I watch little bottles of 3-In-1 oil and other light oils are also emptied into the M35’s tanks. The light oils might help thin that nasty used motor oil. I overhear the lads saying that they are going to save the WD-40 spray cans to use as starting fluid for the diesel vehicles. I have heard of starting fluid, although I have never heard of WD-40 being used for starting fluid.

The fuel additives, even if they are snake oil, are probably a fantastic idea as God only knows the quality of fuel we have been running. I overhear the lads talking that tomorrow when they empty the automotive supply store, they will check brakes and maybe add more fuel additives. Several of the vehicles, Carol’s and mine included, are also low on motor oil. I am not quite sure what the “Lucas Motor Oil Stabilizer” is supposed to do, but Carol’s and my engine each get a white plastic bottle of it thrown into the crankcase.

Maybe the Lucas stuff will help ease the low oil problem and replenish some of the additives in the old crank case oil. God knows the last time the motor oil was changed in these vehicles, and I doubt it will ever get changed again. I notice that Mike is keeping a notebook in which he writes what vehicles are in need of what product. No diesel specific motor oil was found today, so tomorrow the lads are going to try to locate some.

As the sun drops into a dark red sky, the camp has an almost festive mood. It has been a long time since I have heard anyone laugh. The few younger children we have in the camp are running about. For the first time in several weeks, I feel as if the camp has taken a collective sigh of relaxation. Even though the younger children are each armed with a large bladed knife and at least one striking weapon like a wooden baseball bat, hatchet or a large hammer (no one, even the kids, go unarmed), it is pleasant to see them acting like children for a change.

Several wooden pallets were brought back with the scavs today. The pallets are quickly broken up for firewood. The fire pit outside the command and mess tent is lit and soon a large fire is roaring in the circle of rocks. Probably too damn tall of a fire that will attract unwanted attention, but no one seems to give a shit right now. The almost party-like atmosphere in the camp is a pleasant change from the dour, depressing mood it has been in for weeks.

The colonels are now busily handing out cigarettes, lighters, chewing tobacco, candy bars, small bags of potato and tortilla chips and all manner of bagged candy. Cans and bottles of soda pop and other beverages are also freely handed out. All kinds of snack food have been sorely missed. I watch soldiers chomp on Chex Mix, Combos, and sunflower seeds while guzzling cans and bottles of soda.

The calories are healthy for the crew as everyone is looking rather gaunt. The variety in our diet is a real delightful surprise. I am not sure how many of these young people are going to get much sleep tonight with the sudden and unaccustomed glut of caffeine in their systems. I spend a few minutes just smelling the large Snickers and Kit Kat chocolate bars given to me by Sam. I had almost forgotten what chocolate smelled like.

I also managed to score a full carton of Marlboro 100s, not my favorite, but I am already drooling at the thought of a cigarette. I note several other soldiers already lighting up, and I follow suit. The first inhale causes me to cough a little. I know smoking is unhealthy for me and all that rot. In the midst of a zombie apocalypse, where I am far more likely to die by being bitten, emphysema is the least of my worries.

As soldiers have probably done for millennia, quick and furious horse trading erupts as soldiers trade with each other for desired items. Playing cards is one of the most sought after items as, minus electronic entertainment, there is little to occupy the slow hours. Indeed, much of the trash we pass piled on the edges of the roadway is comprised of cell phones, iPods, and small electronic games like the PlayStation PS3 Vita. Watches and numerous tablets in a myriad of sizes and styles are also frequently spotted in the trash.

Cell phones were almost immediately worthless. Within 24, hours the cell phone towers and lines were so congested that no one could get a call through. Within 48, hours,  any phone call was impossible on the east coast. After the declaration of martial law, the cell phone frequencies were seized by the government broadening their communication spectrum. In some areas, it was suggested that the government may have actually jammed and blocked cell service in an attempt to stem the spread of panic.

Electronic gadgets, once highly prized, are excess weight once their batteries die. You cannot eat it, it will not keep you warm, and you cannot use it as a weapon. I secretly still have the small MP3 player I took from the dead security guard at SeaTac. I have been trying to find a charging cable that I can plug into the truck’s power jack. I have never shown the MP3 player to Shack as I have kept it buried in the pocket of my SCOTTEVEST jacket.

I still check the small MP3 player every now and then. I am alarmed at how quickly the battery is losing its charge. I hope this scavenger mission tomorrow affords me the opportunity to obtain a charging cable. As many hours as I spend driving the truck it would be agreeable to do so with some tunes.

A few paperback books are also handed out freely as well as quite a few out of date gossip and other dime store rag magazines. Soldiers quickly and for the most part quietly trade with each other. Some soldiers want a particular gossip magazine or a paperback book. Foot powder, deodorant, shampoo and bars of soap are most precious now and command premium trade value.

Shack scores a large pink bottle of baby powder (for his balls, he tells me), several bars of Irish Spring bar soap, a few gel deodorant sticks, a pair of large Q-tips boxes, several small boxes of strike anywhere matches, two tubes of toothpaste (one original mint Crest, the other Colgate), three new toothbrushes, three bottles of shampoo (one Pert Plus, one Head and Shoulders, and one Axe), and a few other odd and ends.

Shack and I combine our hauls, giving us a total of five various bottles of shampoo, eight miscellaneous bars of soap, four new toothbrushes, two hair combs and a brush, a full bottle of cinnamon-flavored Listerine, three full large boxes of generic Q-tips, nearly two full boxes of strike anywhere wooden matches, two bottles of baby powder (for Shack’s balls), six gel deodorant sticks, three pairs of fingernail clippers and a large, single pair of toe nail cutters.

Despite the deodorant being of the male variety, I am looking forward to its liberal application. I am tired of Shack’s serious arm pit funk and I am most sick of smelling my own. The thought of brushing my teeth with a real toothbrush rather than my finger or a stick is most appealing. The thought of Shack brushing his teeth is also most pleasing.

Shack is a handsome young man, but he breathes through his mouth. His nose was broken, poorly set and it did not heal real well. I think his slightly crooked nose is cute, but he cannot breathe through it remarkably well. Shack has some seriously bad breath. I will try to coax Shack gently into brushing his teeth and liberally using the Listerine mouthwash. For the short while that the toiletry items last; they will make life in the close confines of the truck much more pleasant. The lack of dental floss is disappointing. I am not the only one to comment upon the lack.

Numerous bags of the little dental harps and bags of the flavored tooth picks are freely given to the crew, so most of the griping ceases. Nothing like having a tough piece of gristle stuck in your teeth for days during a zombie apocalypse to put someone in a truly foul mood.

It is explained finally after much griping that Jamal and Terrance are keeping the dental floss as they may need it for sutures. There are better materials for sutures in most situations, but dental floss works in an emergency situation. The dental floss will need to be cut off and removed later, but most of the complainers understand the necessity of letting the medical team keep the dental floss. If they run out of sutures in the medical kits, dental floss is not a terrible substitute for certain applications.

Shack and I also score three small hand towels, two large bath towels, a pair of small fuzzy pink house slippers, and a bright blue nylon toiletry bag. We haul our stuff to our tent where we briefly talk to Carol and Nikola who also combined their hauls. I noted that the expectant couples also scored several baby specific materials like disposable diapers, bottles, pacifiers, formula, and baby wipes.

The colonels also hand out to the women and girls of the convoy (including me) various feminine hygiene products. Maxi pads, tampons, and other items are handed out as requested. The colonels hand out female beauty products such as hair clips, barrettes, bobby pins, and scrunchies for us ladies to manage our hair. There was even some ethnic hair and beauty products for the black and other ethnic ladies.

Since I have the longest hair in the convoy, I genuinely appreciate the hair pins, rubber bands and barrettes. With only one black woman in the convoy, I hope that the hair and beauty products will work for her. Unfortunately, we lost the coin toss, so the women shower tomorrow. It has been a week or so since I have taken my hair down. It will be most pleasing to wash my hair.

While the colonels are in a giving mood, the last of the offensive grenades are distributed among the crew, giving Shack and I four each on our tactical harness, and 17 stored in the truck. The Scouts and guards are restocked with grenades. Every one’s ammo is also topped off, as well.

The empty wooden crates from the grenades and ammo are broken up and used in the fire. A ragged cheer erupts in the camp when it is announced that enough propane was recovered to heat water for the first time in days. In the morning, the Princess will have hot water for her laundry as well as hot showers in rotation for the crew.

Wondering why the colonels are handing out so much ammo, I overhear that the colonels are making room for supplies. After the distribution of ammo and grenades, the colonels start to hand out wine, beer, malt liquor, hard alcohol, mixers and soda for the first time in weeks. Senior NCOs like Longfeather, Sutton and Randy keep an eye on the quickly inebriated crew.

Everyone who is not on duty gets an alcoholic drink of their choice. Nonalcoholic drinks are liberally handed out, as well. Shack scored several 20 ounce plastic bottles of Mountain Dew Classic as well as several four packs of Red Bull. Shack does not like beer or wine, but he likes the Mike’s Hard Lemonade that he is drinking. Shack stores his stash in our truck. While no one is allowed to get too intoxicated, booze is a welcome addition to camp life. We could use the calories as everyone is looking a little gaunt.

Several people, including myself, enjoy a cigarette or a pinch of snuff for the first time in weeks. I cough a little at the first deep drag on my cigarette, and I get a slight headache from the nicotine, but God the cigarette tastes so delicious. I see a few of the lads scored cigars or cigarillos. I cannot drink because I am coming on duty, so after my cigarette, I head for the radio tent.

With the influx of toiletries and other small items many of which we did not realize we were missing until received, the festive mood prevails in the camp through evening helped by the inebriation of several of the members. Several times the colonels and some of the senior enlisted men such as Longfeather, Sutton and Randy caution the crew to maintain light and noise discipline.

I see some couples slip off quietly into the woods within the perimeter for an assignation. I wonder how many of those couples are going to be using protection. I also wonder how many more pregnant ladies we are going to have in the camp.

You cannot imagine how silly Sam looked with a roaring bonfire behind him, cautioning the crew to maintain light discipline. Thankfully the ludicrous bonfire quickly consumed most of its fuel and died down to a nice bed of glowing coals, giving off warmth. From then on, the fire is kept low. By some magical means,  the cooks produce marshmallows and half of a chocolate bar for each crew member.

Several large bags of marshmallows are shared among the crew, as are the various sticks cut to roast the marshmallows over the fire. I cannot remember the last time I had chocolate, I think it was a few days ago from an MRE. The sticky marshmallow roasting brings joy and laughter to the crew. I do not care for marshmallows, but I slip the half of the chocolate bar in my jacket pocket for later.

The camp noise dies down as some crew members, those not lucky enough for it to be shower day, head for bed. For the first time in days, the shower water heating system has been lit. There is an anxious air in the camp as all wait for the hot water. It does not take long for the water to heat. Those lucky enough to have today as their bath day gets to bathe. Those of us who are unlucky bemoan our luck.

I tuck Shack into our rather smelly bed roll. We are using one bedroll to save wear and tear on the others. There will probably never be another water proof -60 sleeping bag ever made again. The devilishly smart and now somewhat pregnant Princess made everyone sleeping bag liners made from recovered old cotton sheets.

The sewing is fairly crude, but the sleeping bag liners do a excellent job of keeping the dirt and grime out of the bags. It is far easier to wash the sleeping bag liners rather than the whole bag. The liners are supposed to add a couple of degrees warmth to the bag, but I have not noticed any warmth increase.

I take over in the radio shack for the day crew. Nikola and Shen were most glad to see me. Shen’s English is getting much better, especially profanity upon which he seems to have a very firm grasp. Carol wanders into the tent a few minutes later, probably after seeing Nikola to their bed roll. Carol’s baby bump is seriously starting to show; the buttons on her shirts are starting to suffer.

For the most part,  the night passes quietly. Shortly after 03:00, when Carol and I were just getting sleepy, tired of cold coffee and sick of numerous hands of pointless solitaire, a powerful crackling transmission pounds through the radio static. Surprisingly the transmission is on an Ultra-Low Frequency (ULF – between 300 hertz and three kilohertz).

I did not realize that our radio sets could detect transmissions that low. Set on auto scan, I did not honestly pay attention to the frequency range that the radio set was scanning. Carol and I quickly grabbed some paper and a pen and tried to copy as much of the transmission as possible.

The transmission claims to be from a secure buried bunker underneath what is left of Fort Detrick. The person transmitting claims to have worked for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). This person, who never identifies himself, transmits medical information concerning the transference of KCAP.

According to the transmission, KCAP can only be transmitted in four ways: blood to blood, mucus to mucus, mucus to blood and blood to mucus. The person said that the reason that a person who is splashed with blood, or other matter from a KCAP infected person does not contract KCAP is because by that time the KCAP virus has grown too large for absorption.

The virus is small enough for absorption through the eyes and any open wound only in the extremely earliest stages of infection, usually within the first 30 minutes. After that, the virus has grown so large that it cannot be transmitted except by the previously four mentioned methods. KCAP’s large size also prevents it from going air borne as it is too heavy.

The transmitting person said that, on average, there is approximately a 0.003% chance of contracting KCAP by being splashed with infectious material. It somewhat comforting to know that the KCAP virus, because of its extreme growth, limits its ability to become airborne which further limits its ability to spread. Other than because of the total gross-out factor, I think that I am going to continue to wear protective gear to keep fluids from splashing on me when killing zombies.

When I was at SeaTac Airport, I did not have any protective gear. I realize now that I was extraordinarily lucky that the KCAP virus does not transfer as easily as some other viruses do. I was also fortunate that KCAP is a virus and not a bacterium. The Fort Detrick transmission does not repeat, although Carol and I are fairly sure that we got all the information written down. We decided that the information was not significant enough to wake Sam and that it could wait until morning.

Carol’s handwriting is so much better than mine, so she transcribed our scribbled notes into one neat report. By the time that Carol was done writing the final copy, Nikola, Shen and Shack walked in to the tent early with our breakfast. As Carol and I shovel hot, apple cinnamon flavored oatmeal down, we brief the boys on the night’s events.

Leaving Shen in the radio shack, Shack and I follow Nikola and Carol next door to our bedrolls. Shack tucks me in to our bed roll kissing me lightly on the lips. He cheers me up by telling me that the Scouts and recovery crew are already packing. Shack has got all my gear in the truck, and I can sleep until it is almost time to leave.

I need to get to sleep quickly as, at best; I may get an hour of sleep. I will probably sleep in the truck on the way to the targeted stores, as well. The best news is that tomorrow evening it will be our turn to shower after the Princess has finished the laundry.

I need to get to sleep now as I have to be up to join the looters. My mind is going far too fast for me to settle into sleep. I am going to be dead tired. Thankfully the bed roll starts to warm and I feel that familiar fog of sleep approaching.

As I drift off to sleep in the warm bedroll, I wonder what we will encounter while looting the stores. I also wonder what goods we will return with. Will the convoy suffer another loss?

17 Comments
  1. S. Lane permalink

    Thanks Allen for another great chapter.

    S. L.

    • Thanks glad you liked it. I will try to get the next chapters up sooner. I have been inspired since I had to recover/rewrite the last 200 pages or so of the tale due to a HDD crash.

      • There is a folk belief in my ciutmnomy of Earth Quake Weather . So I prepare for an earth quake by storing enough food and water for two weeks. I knew somebody that experienced California’s Northridge earth quake and it took government relief one week to supply victims with water. Always store your own.

  2. Bagman permalink

    Wow out of the blue, thank you!,,

    • You are welcome. I am trying to get the next chapter posted quicker. I suffered a massive HDD crash which wiped a lot of my Ruth chapters. Since I had to rewrite so much of the tale I took the opportunity to change some of the story.

  3. Thanks for another nice chapter. I noticed, that some topics seemed to be repeated in multiple areas causing the story to jump around a bit, but was glad to see that you’re back at it.

    • Yes I noticed the repeats as well and tried to alleviate some of it through editing. It is nearly impossible to properly edit yourself. Part of the repeats is from the recovery after the HDD crash. Next chapter I hope to have less jumping around and a smoother story.

    • Here in the Poconos high winds are an ongoing peblorm although we get a lot of different weather. Since we live in a rural area we oftem lose power and flashlights of any stripe are always helpful especially for me as with my emphysema candles are not very goot to use because of the smoke.

  4. phil. permalink

    thanks for chapter 78.
    its been a long drought without a chapter.

    • I will endeavor to get the next chapter posted sooner.

  5. My Favorite author of the best Zombie apocalypse story. Thank you sir, your timing was perfect and now I can read and re-read this fine chapter. I don’t know how you are able to put as much fine text and content into the story as you do, but I applaud your ability to do so. Thank you for a fine account of the company and the many details that make this story of “Ruth” such a fine read. Please continue on my brother, you have rocked our world once again. M.M.

  6. I must digress to the other fine readers. of this story… when I mentioned the timing being right, it was personal to me. I know it has been a long time since the author added a new chapter, my situation at work was the reason for my saying so. Today, I lost my supervisor due to “Reduction of force” and replaced by “Bumping” and I am very sad to
    lose a fine person who truly cared about our organization simply because our bargaining unit allowed people to replace others based upon seniority versus actual skills. Sad day to lose my boss, but a fine day to find a new chapter in this awesome tale. When I am bored, I go back to the first lover of Ruth and his description of her physical attributes, then I move on to her experience at “Sea-Tac” M.M.

    • Thanks for the kind words M.M. As always I am glad that you enjoyed the story. I have recovered for the most part from my disastrous HDD crash and hope to get the next chapter posted sooner. Since I work in a shop governed by a large national union, I understand your pain when personnel get bumped due to seniority rather than skill. I have been bumped out of my shop several times because I am still the lowest person in the shop. However, many of those that bumped into our shop quickly find the stress and work demands of our shop are not to their liking so they leave to bump some other poor bastard. So I get called back to the shop according to the CBA until some other fool bumps me out again. With the hiring freeze on for state workers there is a lot of bumping going on as shops have to cut personnel. I feel your pain M.M. and hope that you do not get bumped. Until the time that I get called back to my shop, I am working on the next few chapters of Ruth.

  7. Thank you, so very much, for the kind words. I had no idea that you were feeling the pain as we are at this time. I work for a large school system and have 30 plus years in, I am a “small fish (assistant supv)” so I am not a “good meal” for those wishing to move into our organization. What happened is the entire Facilities gang was sent packing by our new superintendant of schools in order to privatize, those displaced, came to us (maintenance) and started after the tastier jobs. Enough about work,
    I have come to realize that you have taken the zombie apocalypse into a personal level, yes, there are hordes of zombies out there but your story moves into the surviving folks daily routines and then, when you think things are somewhat “cool”. BOOM!!!!!, Zombies, Cannibals, Rouge survivors, dirtbags from within (Reginald) so glad he was whacked. You are kicking serious ass with Ruth’s Tale, out of all the “Zombie” shit I have read, except the 2 series you recommended (return man & Morningstar) none compare to the fine work you have done on this page. I am waiting to see World War Z soon. but I don’t think it will be as good as the way you have assembled your story. Be well and keep on with the good work. M.M.

  8. Yes work has been a drag recently. When I retired from the Army, I went from senior NCO to lowest man on the pole. So when someone gets bumped, I am the one that gets put on vacation as the next person in the shop has 13 years seniority compared to my almost 5.
    I have tried to get more into the personal life of the survivors as I imagine it might be. While there will be a lot of zombie killing, there is also going to be more personal inner reflection and study of group dynamics.

  9. Anonymous permalink

    Hey Allen, Glad to see you posting these sweet stories again. I especially like the details about equipment and supplies. Makes a guy think a bit and day dream about possible real life scenarios and what if’s. Anywho, keep up the great work. I’ll be reading the rest very soon!

    As for your HDD crash, you should consider backing your stories up on something like a flash drive, scribd.com, or some sort of cloud drive. Redundancy is necessary for some things :). In addition to a flash drive, I use scribd.com for my documents and set everything to private so no one can see or download them besides myself.

    -Mike

    • Thanks Mike, I am using Google Sky Drive for a back up now. Wish I had done that before.

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