Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s Story #185 First Night at Robert’s Place #TEOTWAWKI #SHTF #WROL
Word is quietly passed that lunch is ready. No clanging triangles here because it attracts too much attention of the wrong sort. We all filter in through the old cement plant’s service doors. It is much cooler inside the old plant, one of the many things that I hated when I lived here during my convalescence. I am a child of the desert, I hate the cold.
Once inside, the children came running down to greet us. After numerous hugs, I get a good look at some of the children. I am amazed at how much some of the children have grown since we were here last.
Lunch is served (as all meals are in the old cement plant) cafeteria style. A line forms with the children and nursing mothers first, followed by the younger men, and then everyone else. Portions are generous, and I had forgotten how noisy it can be here during meals.
My tin tray is piled with some kind of meaty stew, a few pieces of fresh bread topped with butter, and fruit compote of some kind. Pulling one of my US Army OD green canteens off of my belt, I add a cherry flavored electrolyte drink mix from an old Soviet-era IRP (Individualnovo Ratsiona Pitanee).
I have to shake the hell out of my canteen to get all of the sugar to mix with the cold water. While vigorously shaking my canteen, I think about all of the shipping containers filled with MREs from all over the world that Iain has stashed all over his property.
I am not sure where the man got all of those MREs but he probably spent a fortune buying all of them. When it comes down to it though, MREs as survival food are not your best “bang for the buck” as it were when you look at calories per dollar cost.
However, for sheer convenience, and variety of food, plus their often high calorie content military MREs are hard to beat. Iain collected MREs from all over the world for several years. Burying the cargo containers on his land, he constructed carefully planned tunnels accessing each cargo container from the bunker.
Iain keeps an extremely detailed inventory of what is in each cargo container. By burying the containers underground, Iain protected them from the elements, and ensured that the steady temperature underground ensured most of the MREs survived well past their expected life span.
Iain and I have eaten MREs that were over 75 years old and were as fresh as the day they were packed. We have also attempted to eat MREs that were less than five years old and had already gone bad.
Hoping that my drink mix is sufficiently mixed, I dig into my stew while it is still warm. Not sure what meat is in the stew (I have learned not to ask) but it is tasty. Lots of potatoes and carrots, with some barley mixed in makes a hearty stew.
The fruit compote is slightly tart, but not overly sweet. I cannot place the berries I find in the compote, but recognize strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Separating some of the small round berries I study them closely.
“They’re silver buffaloberry and Canada buffaloberries, honey,” Iain says. “They’ve planted a bunch of them around that little spring up on the hill behind the plant. We have some on our property too, but the damn birds get most of ours before I can get to them. I much prefer goose berries, as I find buffaloberries just a little too tart for my tastes.”
Iain does have a hell of a sweet tooth, so I am not surprised that he prefers the sweeter goose berries to these tarter berries. My favorite has always been strawberries, which Iain loves as well which are why we keep a large patch of strawberries in our hydroponic system.
After spreading the butter on my bread, I sprinkle a little salt on it from my twin salt and pepper shaker that I keep in my coat pocket. Iain does the same with his bread and butter. Both of us use the bread to sop up every last drop of the stew and the fruit compote from our tin trays
Iain breaks out a sleeve of Pilot brand commercial survival crackers from his LBV sharing them with me. We both pull out a desert. Iain chooses an apricot and apple fruit gelee from a French RCIR (Ration de Combat Individuelle Rechauffable). I eat a cinnamon and apple Zapplesauce from an American army MORE (Modular Operational Ration Enhancement).
I think this particular Zapplesauce came from a US Army Hot Weather Pack #3, but I am not sure. Iain and I both like the snacks found in MREs from all the major countries. Finding the MRE snacks convenient and full of calories, Iain and I try to keep our pockets filled with at least a couple of snacks. After the crackers, Iain and I share one of the chocolate bars from another Russian IRP.
For some reason the Russian chocolate is particularly good, although I have never really gone crazy for chocolate. Amy loved chocolate, while I much prefer caramel. Unfortunately, caramel is fairly rare in MREs.
Iain and I are assigned a room on the third level of the plant. During the night, the lowest level which is mostly open to the elements is abandoned. The first floor is indefensible so it is abandoned. The ladders are pulled up into the second level, where most of the personnel live.
Iain and I carry our bedrolls and other supplies into our room. You have to admit the rooms are nice in the old cement plant compared to what most people live in. Robert and his crew have managed to partition off sections offering a little privacy.
Most of the walls are constructed of pallets and other handy building material such as car doors and body panels. After securing our room, Iain and I spend the afternoon handing out the trade items to the kitchen.
Robert’s bunch has had a good crop of Austrian winter peas grown on the hills behind the plant. The pea fields attract lots of wildlife mostly grouse, rabbits and the occasional deer which are carefully shot and butchered.
Dinner tonight will be another meaty porridge with some vegetables accompanied by some fresh-baked bread. As the evening progresses, the ground floor is secured and all personnel are accounted for on the second floor before the ladders are pulled up and secured for the night.
Supper is eaten in the large common room. I am glad to see Robert still has some working electrical lights. Iain found several thermoelectric generators which were bolted to every stove in the old plant.
Discovered in 1821, thermoelectric generators create electricity from direct heat. There are enough generators here to illuminate most of the second and third levels with faint light. The use of LEDs helps prolong the battery life.
Iain and I go to bed early. We are tired from travelling and fear we will fall asleep at the table. We excuse ourselves and retreat to our room. We strip and lay out tomorrow’s clothing. While Iain takes a quick sponge bath, I wipe my weapons with CLP. I notice that my Glock fighting knife’s edge needs a touch up – I will do that tomorrow after breakfast.
After my cold sponge bath, I crawl shivering into bed with Iain. Sleeping with Iain is like having a large furry furnace in bed with me. Curled up against Iain’s side I drift off to sleep wondering what tomorrow will bring.