If you don't like the Weather Chapter 3


If You Don’t Like The Weather… - Chapter 3

“What did you do?” Cap asked Brian. “Buy out a gun store?” Brian and Cap were unloading the rental truck and trailer and had just got to the arms, ammunition, and accessories stacked near the front of the truck, after having unloaded package after package of toilet paper.

Jake, Jeb, and most of the rest of the family were emptying the semi trailers and inventorying everything in preparation of re-stacking it in the trailers in a useable order.

After Brian and Cap had moved the hardware into the cabin next to Brian’s, they moved the heavy sacks. Cap didn’t ask, and Brian didn’t say what was in the sacks, but Cap gave Brian a knowing look as they stacked them in the cabin bedroom.

Brian didn’t feel right about just keeping the rental, so he took it to Springfield, just as he’d indicated on the one-way contract. After they unloaded the pickup, Jake followed Brian in to pick him up.

Things looked normal in the city. Brian was ready to head back to the camp, but suddenly looked at Jake and said, “Why not?” as they approached a Wal-Mart shopping center. One thing that wasn’t normal, was that none of the stores were taking credit cards or checks. Strictly cash.

But Brian still had plenty of cash on him, so he paid up, filling a few holes and shortages in the items already stocked at the camp. While there was still merchandise on the shelves, things seemed to be going fast this Saturday morning. They filled the bed of the pickup and the wide rear seat and returned to the camp.

Someone was always watching the television in the main cabin, to keep track of the storm and how the rest of the world was reacting to it. To gain additional information, the antenna tower that Brian had purchased was assembled and erected at the side of the main cabin, using the eve as a tie-off point.

The base station antennas were mounted, and the base station radios set up on a desk in the common room, with coax cables connecting them. It was the same table that held the camp’s CB radio. It had its own antenna on a guyed pole already.

The shortwave broadcasts and Amateur Radio traffic from around the world told them more than the TV, except for the Weather Channel.

The huge low pressure system was still growing, dumping snow measuring in feet on Canada and the northern United States as it slowly drifted mostly eastward now. Temperatures in the snow areas were often below zero. South of the system itself, the temperatures were down to below freezing in a wide band. At the hunting camp, the temperatures dropped to the low forties.

Over the next few days, as the group settled into the routine of the scamp, the information coming in by radio and TV indicated that people were beginning to panic. The longer the storm lasted, the worse the conditions became in the north, the more people that headed south from the affected areas.

The National Weather Service and the Weather Channel were not giving much hope to those watching and listening. With uncertainty and rumors running rampant, social structure began to break down. So did public utilities. Truckers refused to go into the affected areas with food and other necessities.

More people began to move southward. Those living in the southern states in the US at first took in and took care of the refugees. But supplies started becoming a problem, as more and more people went south. Many were forced to bypass communities and cities already strained to the breaking point.

The Mexican government closed the border, by force. Many of those in the know, early in the event, that had gone to Mexico to escape the storm were rounded up and shipped back to the States, under strong guard, minus the money and other wealth they had brought with them.

Many didn’t fare well when they were unceremoniously dumped at the border crossing at El Paso, Texas and made to walk across the bridge. It was more than a little resented that so many of those in the government had fled the danger without issuing any kind of warning, not to mention the sudden rumors that information had actually been suppressed by these same people.

So far, the exodus to the south had not affected those at the hunting camp. When the internet came up again, Brian had tried to put more orders in for supplies at the same businesses he’d used before. They weren’t taking any new orders. Brian and his group would have to get along with what they already had. And could produce for themselves locally.

But Brian didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Despite being well off the main roads, especially any major routes to the south, US 65 wasn’t all that far away. Brian discussed it with Jake and Jake agreed with Brian they should close the far end of the track in to the camp.

They didn’t actually build the abatis at the junction with the county gravel road. Instead they formed one somewhat in from the junction, hoping most people would simply bypass the little used track anyway. They didn’t want to draw attention to it by obviously blocking it off.

At a point not far around a sharp bend the track the abatis was formed from half a dozen trees felled with chainsaws. The camp had one saw, for clearing any timber felled across the track during storms, but a couple of Husky chainsaws were among the equipment Brian had brought with him. It didn’t take long to fell the trees in an interlaced pattern to block the road. It would take major work with chainsaws to clear it.

When questioned about being able to leave in an emergency, Cap showed everyone the even less used track that connected with a seldom used fire road a mile behind the camp. It eased everyone’s mind. A little. The back way in was blocked with one of the semi’s.

Brian showed Jake, Jeb, and Cap a few techniques for setting up X-10 motion sensor perimeter alarms in some of the literature on Tony’s DVD’s, using his laptop. They took a day and set up alarms all through the forest right around the camp, on both tracks in and out, and the path to the lake. A separate set of alarms was set up around the supply trailers.

While, between them, Jake’s family had a small assortment of arms, and there was a good selection of hunting rifles kept in a gun safe in the main cabin, Brian distributed a few weapons from his stockpile a bit more suited for defense.

Everyone checked out everything they weren’t familiar with at the small range cut into forest behind the camp. Only Alexandra and the baby Steven were exempted. Alexandra was terrified of firearms and there was nothing any of them could to persuade her. Samantha was considered too young to keep a gun, but she was allowed to shoot .22’s. Anthony was checked out on a Ruger 10/22 and given one, with a dozen magazines and two five-hundred round bricks of hyper velocity .22 LR.

Though they didn’t set up roving patrols, there was a rotating watch to listen for the alarm system, and monitor the TV and radios. Alexandra, Samantha, and Anthony became Cap’s assistants maintaining and increasing the size of the garden.

With Callie in charge, Brenda, Gloria, Helen, Suzy, and Bianca did quite a bit of rearranging of the main cabin to suit permanent residency by women and children.

Jeb was handy at electronics, and after installing the base radio systems, he mounted the Motorola mobile radios in Brian’s three vehicles. The CP200 handhelds batteries were charged, and the radios kept ready for everyone to use when they were outside.

Though the camp already had a relatively large supply of seasoned firewood on site in three wood sheds, it was decided to go ahead and start cutting more, just in case.

Cap guided the others for a while, until he thought they could use the chainsaws and axes both safely and effectively. Cap insisted they be selective of what they cut down. Dead standing timber was preferred, then diseased or damaged trees, all but one tree in a tight cluster, and finally deformed or misshapen trees. For every tree they cut down, three hickory nuts or acorns were planted for new growth in open areas.

Once he felt he could leave, Cap headed back to the compound. It was time to teach Samantha and Anthony more about the garden. Callie and Bianca both had garden experience and needed little supervision. Alexandra was watching Steven, and monitoring the TV. The rest of the women were doing laundry for the group.

Amanda froze in the act of reaching for her cup of tea on the coffee table, Steven napping beside her on the large leather sofa. One of the talking heads on a news channel was handed a sheet of paper. The man went white as he read it.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have just received a report that the National Weather Service has announced a blizzard warning for all of the Great Lakes regions south to St. Louis, and east to include the US New England states. We take you now to the offices of the National Weather Service.”

Amanda reached for the VHF handheld radio and called for Brian. Her hand was shaking as much as her voice. A few minutes later and the men came running in. Cap and the others working outside saw the commotion and also hurried into the main cabin. All gathered around the TV.

Then NWS had made their announcement, but the news station was replaying it and everyone was able to see the whole thing. There was silence for a while among the group after the news channel talking heads came back on.

“They aren’t saying anything about when it will end,” Jake said, looking over at Brian.

“That is what has me worried. There are some theories that a storm like this could just continue and grow bigger.”

“But for how long?” asked Brenda.

All eyes turned to Brian. “A very long time. Might even create another mini-Ice Age.”

There were murmurs for several moments, but something caught Brian’s attention on the television and he asked for quiet.

“As we noted, the announcement was made by mid-level management personnel at the National Weather Service. We are still unable to make contact with anyone at a high level in the Federal Government.

“We have noted that the Governors of New York and Illinois, as well as the Mayors of New York City and Chicago are unavailable for comment. The Governor of California was reached…” A video ran in the background. It showed what the commentator was saying. “but he would not take questions. He left via helicopter with no announced destination.

“Several state governments are calling special sessions of legislature to discuss this Super Storm.”

Suddenly another piece of paper was handed to the commentator. “We now have a connection with the senator from…”

Everyone in the main cabin listened in shock as the Senator told a tale of being informed of the situation and given the opportunity to go to one of several safe havens until more could be learned about the situation. Only he and his immediate family could go. When he refused there were threats to try and make him go. And when he still insisted on staying, was warned about speaking about the situation until the President made an official statement.

Only after he made sure his family was safe from retribution, did he come forward. He called for all remaining national legislators to come forward and meet to discuss the situation. Both situations. The apparent abandonment of the American People by many of their nationally elected representatives, and the weather crisis now going on.

The commentators became talking heads again, with little to talk about but rehashing what had already been said, and lamenting the fact that they couldn’t get any more information. Amanda turned down the sound slightly, leaving it just high enough to catch their attention if something important was said on the news.

Everyone was looking at Brian now. “Okay,” he finally said. “This is why we’re here. Although the NWS didn’t say that the storm would die out relatively soon, it also didn’t say that it wouldn’t go on for a significant amount of time. Or turn into the start of a new Ice Age.”

“You said that before, Mr. Lanigan,” Bianca said. “How bad could it get? And for how long? There was that mini-Ice Age caused by a volcano… I remember reading about it in school…”

“All of you can call be Brian,” Brian said first off. “This may turn out to be something like a one in a thousand years storm. But my instincts are telling me it isn’t. I have no real scientific proof. And the theories I’ve read about have all been discounted by scientists.”

“But the storm is happening,” said Jake. “Like the theories say.”

“But what started it?” asked Suzy.

Brian sighed. “Just more unsubstantiated theories. “Could be natural…” There were murmurs at that. “Or it could be intentional or unintentional weather modification. Maybe the Russians or Chinese… Or even the US, could have been doing something and it got out of hand.”

“That’s kind of far-fetched, don’t you think?” asked Helen.

“Yes, I do,” Brian responded. “But it is one possibility I’m considering.”

“But the mechanics of how don’t matter that much,” Jake said. “What does matter is the reality of what is happening. The NWS said the storm would last at least several days. A blizzard for several days over all of Eastern Canada and the north eastern US is going to be a disaster bigger than Katrina.

“It is going to strain the authorities to the limit. That is, if they even do anything at all. It’s a good thing I don’t know where the slime is that jumped this ship. A lot of people are going to feel the same way. If… or when they come out of hiding, I have a feeling they are going to have a hard time trying to pick up where they left off.”

“We’ll deal with that when it happens,” Cap said. He’d been silent up to that moment. Before, he’d just assumed the city people were just panicking. That included Brian. He’d changed his mind. This was a real disaster. Maybe even that TEOTWAWKI thing he’d seen referred to in the media about some crazy folks. Maybe they weren’t crazy, after all.

“Right now,” Cap continued, “The main thing is to finish getting set up and plans ready for short, medium, and long range, in case this storm doesn’t blow itself out.”

The rest seemed to come to the same conclusion. Until now everything was just temporary. The preparations they had already done were a bit of a snap decision about something that probably wouldn’t happen, but could. Now it was at least probable. That made a difference.

“We are on the right track,” Brian said. “Let’s go about the business at hand that we were doing before the TV broadcast. We can make further plans beginning this evening.”

With that they large group broke up into the same small groups they’d been in when summoned.

After a good supper, with Samantha and Steven in bed and Anthony on TV watch, the adults all sat down around the big community dining table.

“Okay, I guess,” Brian said, opening the meeting. “We should get started.”

Everyone just looked around at each other for long moments.

Jake cleared his throat, partly out of nervousness, partly to get everyone’s attention. “I think we should thank Brian here for the heads up he gave us, and this place where we can stay until we know if this is long term or not.”

He turned to Brian and continued. “As head of the family, I want to express that to you, Brian. Thanks. You’ve probably saved all of us from some really hard, terrifying times.”

Suzy held up her hand tentatively.

“Go ahead, Suzy,” Brian said. “You don’t have to wait.”

“I want to say thanks, to,” she said. “I’m not really part of the family, yet, I guess. And I was wondering… What if some of us don’t agree with something? I know the property is technically yours…”

Jake cut her off. “You’re with Alvin, Suzy. You are part of this family. And since Bianca is your sister, she’s included, too. I don’t think we should be questioning Brian’s handling of things.”

“It was just a thought,” Suzy said smoothly. “I thought there might be some interest in setting up a democratic system here. One person, one vote. Not just one man making the decisions that affect all of us.”

Just about everyone was frowning, including Alvin and Suzy’s sister, Bianca.

“I think that with things so unsettled, one person should be in charge,” Gloria said. “And that should be Brian. He’s the reason we’re here and have what we need to take care of ourselves.”

There were agreeing murmurs. “With a small smile, Suzy said, “Sure. I’ll go along with the majority on that. It is kind of what I was talking about.” She turned to Brian and asked, “What do we do?”

Brian had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He remembered the looks that Jake and Jeb had given each other when Suzy got out of Alvin’s truck. “Well, it’s pretty simple for right now. Everyone just pitches in and helps where they can. We need someone monitoring the radios, TV, and early warning system twenty-four seven. I thought we could all rotate on that, along with the other chores we all need to do to keep the place up and ready for anything.”

Suzy was paying rapt attention. Brian had a feeling she was just gathering data for some future event.

Callie chipped in, her eyes leaving Suzy. She had seen the same look Brian had. “That’s fair enough, if you ask me. We’re all in this together.”

“We are,” Brian hurriedly added. “I own the property and most of the equipment and supplies, but I can’t take full advantage of them without some help. I really believe that as long as everyone contributes in the best way they can, we’ll be safe and secure here for a long time.”

The others nodded their agreement. Suzy just looked at Brian blandly.

As the days progressed, it got cooler and cooler. Everyone settled into a routine. No one had tried to get to the camp. At least as far as they could tell. Brian talked to Mr. Johnson on the CB every day, to keep a handle on what was happening in town. It wasn’t good, according to Johnson.

It was a small country store that Johnson ran. He probably kept proportionally larger than normal stocks of many things than most city stores. He still had some things on his shelves when the nearby city ran out four days after the trucks stopped running.

Trucking was just one of the parts of the infrastructure of the United States that began to fail. Much of the cause was the total failure of the Federal Government, despite the efforts of those in government that hadn’t abandoned the people.

When the government checks stopped, so did a lot of other things. And in the blizzard area, there was just no way to get anything done, anyway. Snowfalls of fifteen to twenty feet weren’t unusual, with winds gusting over a hundred miles an hour.

As each small piece of infrastructure failed, it cascaded to the next, and then the next, until wholesale failures were the norm in the north, and getting worse in the south. Brian expected a migration to the south, and the camp was prepared for it. But he turned out to be wrong. There was a migration, but it was very small.

In the blizzard area, people couldn’t even attempt to move, and those on the periphery seemed to think that since they weren’t in the blizzard zone, they wouldn’t be in the future. So they stayed, for the most part, many not believing the conjecture that it was going to get worse..

Most of those that did migrate headed for the southern states and Mexico. Mexico closed the border to all but her own citizens returning since the good days for them were fading fast. There were skirmishes on the border, but there were no attempts to force the matter and settle in Mexico Americans that wanted to leave the States.

Only twice during those first few weeks did anyone even try to get into the hunting camp. Anthony was on monitor duty and heard two alert signals go off, one right after another. He sounded the alarm and when several people showed up, Brian took Jeb, Alvin, and Brenda with him to see about the disturbance. All were armed and ready for trouble.

Brian led the way and Brenda brought up the rear, several paces back, just as they’d trained the previous week. When Brian motioned, the others all squatted down and Brian called out to the small group of people. “Hold it there! We’re armed and will shoot if you make any aggressive move. You’re on private land. State your business.”

“Don’t shoot mister.” It was the eldest looking man of the group of five men, six women, and three children. “We’re just headed for the lake to set up camp. There’s an abandoned hunting camp up about…”

“It’s not abandoned. It’s mine. I suggest you head east and cut the lake in that direction.”

“But how will we live?” the man asked, his voice anguished. “We need the cabins…”

“Looks like you have tents. How’d you get this far?” Brian asked.

“Well… Yeah… We have some camping gear…”

“Then I suggest you use it. Or better yet, look for housing elsewhere. Things are going to get worse.”

“But we don’t have much food!” cried one of the women.

“Stay where you are,” Brian said. “We can spare some food for the children.” He motioned to Alvin and whispered, “Get three of the children’s humanitarian boxes, and three of the adult. Women’s.”

Alvin nodded and quietly made his way back to the camp. Brian called out to the group of people again. “Stay where you are. I’m coming into the clearing so I can talk to you better.” His hand behind his back, Brian motioned for Jeb and Brenda to spread out and keep him covered.

The women and children huddled together closely when Brian stepped out into the clearing, his rifle very much in evidence. Brian noted that one of the men was holding some type of long arm down alongside his right leg, his left side to Brian. Brian let the muzzle of his rifle drift over toward the man. The man noticed and tensed up even more than he was before.

“We’re getting a few things to help you,” Brian said, addressing the oldest man again. “There are no strings, except you move on and tell no one about getting any help in this area.”

One of the other men began muttering under his breath, but Brian ignored it.

“How many of you are there?” asked a fourth man.

“Enough to take care of business,” Brian said coldly.

“Look, I was just making conversation,” replied the man, more than a little heat in his voice.

“Maybe so,” Brian said. “I’m not in the mood to talk. Feel free to tell me who you are and where you’re coming from.”

That man, too, began muttering just loud enough for Brian to hear, but not understand. After a brief moment, Brian thought the oldest man was going to start speaking, but a word from the fifth man silenced him.

Brian studied the fifth man out of the corners of his eyes. The man was tall, well built, and showed a remarkable lack of concern about what was going on. Brian kept his attention between the man with the gun and the fifth man. Brian would have given his last dime to bet the man was armed with a pistol of some kind. Probably a pretty capable knife, too.

Everyone was getting antsy, but Alvin showed up before anything got out of hand. Brian motioned him forward with a nod. “Everyone just stay where you are and this man will hand out the boxes.

Alvin mostly stayed out of Brian’s line of fire as he walked to the group, but Brian shifted quickly when Alvin got between him and the fifth man. Brian was sure the man had started to do something, but Brian’s move had stopped him.

Alvin handed the children their boxes and then set the other three down and stepped backwards to stand to one side of Brian.

“That’s all?” asked the man holding the long arm.

“Take it and leave,” Brian said.

Three of the men began cursing, until the oldest told them to be quiet. Three of the women picked up the boxes Jeb had set on the ground. The oldest man began to walk away, eastward. The others followed, the men very reluctantly.

“You think the women will get the stuff?” asked Brenda when Brian rejoined her and Jeb.

“I’m not even sure the kids will get theirs,” Brian said.

“You think they might cause more trouble?” Jeb asked.

“Maybe a couple of them,” Brian replied as he led the way back to the camp, keeping a sharp eye and ear tuned for activity to their east. “We just have to maintain our security.”

The others were all waiting on the front porch for Brian and his team to return. Brian was a bit disappointed that they weren’t armed and spread out in a defensive posture. There would need to be a lot more training.

“What happened?” Jake asked.

“Small group looking to take up residence in the camp. As you know, we gave them some humanitarian aid and sent them packing.”

“Alvin said there were children,” Suzy said.

“Three,” Brian replied.

“Why didn’t you ask them all to join us? We still have empty cabins. We have supplies. We could use the help. And for the children’s sake…”

Brian was shaking his head. “We can’t, and I won’t, try to save everyone we meet. Those people are responsible unto themselves. There wasn’t anything about them that would want me to let them stay.”

“You realize that the blood of those children is on your hands,” Suzy said and walked away.

Alvin and Bianca both looked downcast, upset with Suzy. There was some muttering from a couple of the other women, but Brian said, “Everyone is entitled to an opinion.” He walked up to Anthony, who was standing just inside the main door of the cabin, apparently to be able to keep watch and still see and hear what was going on.

“You did good, Anthony. Gave us plenty of warning to handle the situation. Well done.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome.”

After that episode, Brian asked that everyone have a weapon at hand, all the time. Suzy protested. “We haven’t been invaded. We aren’t at war. Why do we need to arm ourselves against our fellow citizens? The weapons weren’t needed that first time. Why should we think they will be in the future?”

“I hope they aren’t, Suzy,” Brian said. A couple of the others were watching. “I believe in the overall goodness of people in general. But there are people out there that might want to take what we have from us. I want to protect everyone from that.”

“We have more than enough. We should be helping. Not hiding back here in the woods.”

“I just learned about being prepared,” Brian said. “It was a quick lesson, but one of the things I did learn, was that only the prepared are going to be in a position to help others, in the long term, in a worldwide disaster like this. If we give away everything we have, how are we to live on and help people in the future?”

“We should be doing that now,” Suzy replied. “I won’t carry a gun. This is still America and I’m free to do as I please.”

“As you wish,” Brian said after a short pause. “It was a request, anyway. Not an order. I just ask that you don’t interfere when we have to go on alert again.”

“You mean if, don’t you?” Suzy replied very quietly.

“No. I mean when. It will happen.”

And it did, less than a week after the first intrusion. Anthony was on watch again and responded as quickly as he had the first time. Jake was the first one to get to the house, other than Alexandra, who was already there, watching Steven for Helen.

Cap came running in from the garden, Samantha on his heels. Next in were Suzy and Callie. They’d been hanging up laundry to dry.

Jake hesitated, but knew it would be much better to meet the threat away from the house. The hesitation was mainly about Suzy. He knew Callie and Cap were more than capable of handling the situation and motioned to them and Suzy to follow him.

Though she had refused to go around armed, Suzy grabbed the Mini-14 that had been assigned to her from the gun rack by the front door of the main cabin on her way out.

As Brian ran up, he saw Suzy going with the others and almost called her back. But their training was for the first responders to scout the situation and report back if need be, while those coming in after were to set up a defense of the camp proper.

He had Alexandra take Steven and Samantha to the interior room designated as their shelter space during an attack. Brian started to tell Anthony to join them, but the boy was staying by the radio and had his Ruger 10-22 right there with him.

The others were taking their places, and Brian ran out to take up a defensive position at the edge of the trees. Jeb wasn’t far behind him.

In the forest, another of the trip wires went off, not far from where Jake and his team were. Jake motioned for them to spread out and hunker down while he scouted further. Although Suzy stopped at first, she started creeping forward after Jake, despite Callie’s insistent motions to stay where she was.

When she saw Jake crouched down, watching something in front of him intently, Suzy changed her course slightly and moved up some distance to his right. Finally she saw what Jake was looking at. It was another group of people. This group was all men, and they all appeared armed.

Jake stood up beside the large tree where he’d been crouched. “You’re trespassing on private property,” he said calmly, the rifle he carried pointing at a spot halfway between him and the group. All seven men turned toward Jake, lifting their guns slightly, but not up to sighting level.

“Just turn that way slightly and keep going.”

Before any of the men could say anything Suzy stood up and called out. “We have food if you need it.”

Jake couldn’t believe it. One of the men finally spoke. “You have enough food to share?”

“We have plenty,” replied Suzy. Her rifle was slung. “Why don’t you come up to our camp.”

“Suzy!” hissed Jake. “What are you doing?”

“Just being hospitable in these tough days. It is only right.”

“She’s right, you know,” said another of the men. “You should be hospitable. You have food and we have none. How fair is that?”

“You’re armed. Hunt,” Jake said.

“She invited us up,” said the first man, taking a step toward Jake and Suzy.

“I’m not,” Jake said, his voice hard.

“I did,” Suzy said then. “Come on,” she added, waving her arm for the men to approach.

Two of the men in the group were whispering and suddenly began to edge away from the others, going opposite directions. That was when Cap called out from near one of them. “Don’t try it. We’ve got you all covered.”

“The little lady invited us up. We’re going up.” The leader of the group took another step toward them. “We want that food.”

“Just enough to get you on your way,” Suzy said. Her voice was sounding a bit unsure now.

“That would be all of it!” The leader of the group made a motion with his hand and dived to one side, bringing his rifle up to bear on Jake.

Cap didn’t hesitate. He opened fire. Callie did, as well, only a beat behind Cap. Jake took two rounds before he could lift his rifle and went down.

In a panic now, Suzy tried to bring her rifle into play from its slung position on her right shoulder. But her effort was too late and too little. As much as the men would have liked to have kept her for themselves, she was armed and therefore a target. She fell to the ground, dead, her body riddled with bullets before she ever felt the first one.

Jake managed to get off half a dozen rounds, taking out two of the men. Callie and Cap had done their share. The rest of the group were all down. Two of them were groaning loudly and one was screaming.

The man didn’t scream long. Cap put a bullet in his head. Seeing it, the other two men tried to stifle their moans and crawl away. Cap had moved away, into the forest again, to look for anyone that might not have been in the main group. Callie kept her eyes on the two wounded men, but made no move to help them as she moved over to Jake.

Callie called for help on her radio, and knelt down beside Jake. She checked for a pulse in his neck. There was a strong one. With Jake helping, Callie turned him over to check his wounds. One of the rounds had taken him high in the left shoulder, nicking the bone, but missing arteries and passing out the rear of his shoulder.

The wound in his right leg was worse. The bullet had gone in mid-thigh and was lodged, from Jake’s description of the pain, in the thigh bone. Brian and Jeb came running up, guns at the ready. Brenda was with them and had a first-aid kit in her hand. She went directly to Jake when Callie called to her.

Brenda quickly applied pressure bandages to all three wound points. Jake was trying to control the pain by concentrating on something else, but the occasional groan slipped out as Brenda worked on him. Tears were streaming down Callie’s face, but she continued to keep an eye on the two wounded attackers. One had fallen silent and quit crawling away. The other one was almost to the edge of the small clearing when Cap stepped into view.

He knelt down and checked the man. “Sorry, dude. You’re history no matter what I do.” Loudly Cap called out, “Fire in the hole!” before he put the wounded man out of his misery. He walked over to the other man and checked him. No coup de grace was required. The man had expired of his wounds.

Jeb was helping Brenda with Jake. Brian went around to the dead and began checking for information. He found little but driver’s licenses and social security cards. There was some money, which Brian left in the wallets. All the men but two were locals. The other two were from the St. Louis area. Brian wondered absently if it was a group with knowledge of the hunting camps in the area looking for what they could find.

Not much the wiser about why, Brian went over to check on Jake. Cap calmly went around to the dead mean and did a much more thorough search of their bodies. He stripped everything useful from them, primarily their weapons and the few supplies they had.

“How is he?” Brian asked.

“He’s lost some blood, and has a bullet in his thigh that needs to come out,” Brenda replied. She finished fastening the last bandage in place and stood up. “He needs a doctor. I might be able to get the bullet out, with the medical tools and supplies you brought, but it’d be sheer butchery.”

Callie looked at Brian with pleading eyes.

“Let’s get him back to the cabin and I’ll call Mr. Johnson on the CB. See if he knows a doctor in the area.”

Brenda unrolled the soft stretcher attached to the medical bag, and the four of them carefully lifted Jake and put him on the stretcher. With one of them at each corner of the stretcher, they headed back to the camp, Callie walking alongside the stretcher, holding Jake’s hand.

The others were waiting anxiously at the main cabin and hurried out when they saw the group approaching. Suddenly Alvin stopped and looked closely. “Where’s… Where’s Suzy?”

Bianca looked toward the forest where the group had entered the clearing. “Suzy?” she called out softly.

“I’m sorry. Suzy was killed in the fight,” Callie said. “She… She put up a fight…”

Cap gave a sharp look at Callie, but held his words. It was Callie’s husband that had been shot, probably due to Suzy’s actions. If Callie wanted to let the others believe Suzy had died a hero, then he saw no reason to ruin the deception.

“No!” Bianca cried and crumpled to the ground. Alvin stepped over too her, knelt down and took her in his arms. They were both crying.

Anthony, as he had before, stood in the door of the cabin, keeping an eye on the monitors. His face turned ashen. Samantha was standing behind him and she started to cry. Alexandra, Steven in her arms, moved over to Samantha. “Come on,” she said softly. “Help me in the kitchen.”

Gloria and Helen both gave Alexandra grateful looks. They wanted to stay with Jake. They got him inside the cabin and on one of the spacious sofas facing the fireplace.

“Come on, Anthony,” Brian said. “We need to try to get Mr. Johnson on the CB.”

“Yes, sir.” Anthony sat down at the desk before Brian could and very competently began calling for Mr. Johnson on the Cobra CB radio.

It took three tries before Johnson answered. “I have him, Brian.” Anthony hopped up and handed Brian the microphone.

“Mr. Johnson. We have a man down with gunshot wounds. Is there someone close with medical experience. A doctor? Even a vet. Someone that can take a bullet out of a leg.”

“There’s Doc Adams, but I don’t know if he’s in shape to help. He’s over eighty. Then there is Abby Sincars. She’s the local large animal vet.”

“Could you call her and ask her to meet us at her place? And I’ll need directions.”

It took a few minutes, but the arrangements were made. Brian stayed out of the way while Jake’s family got him ready to put into the back of the Suburban. Callie climbed into the front passenger seat and Brenda rode in back with Jake to keep an eye on him. Jeb moved the truck and trailer blocking the back road out of the way and Brian headed for town.

Brian took him aside for a moment. “The other bodies can wait a day or two. But Suzy needs to be taken care of immediately. Can you…”

“Don’t worry about it, Brian. We’ll take care of the arrangements. Just get Jake the help he needs.”

Brian went back to the Suburban and they took off, traveling slowly to avoid jarring Jake. It was almost an hour before they got to the vet’s small animal care facility, housed in a large single wide mobile home. Despite taking precautions to minimize shock, Jake was showing the signs of it when they carried him from the Suburban to the vet’s examination room.

“I don’t know about this,” Abby said as she began to exam Jake. “It’s against the law for me to practice on people.”

“There is no one else available,” Brian said. “I’m afraid it will take too long to try and get him to the city.”

“You could be right,” Abby said, all business now. “He’s going into shock. I’m going to need some help.”

“I have some training,” Brenda said. “My name is Brenda.”

“Okay. The rest of you out. Come on, Brenda. I’ll show you were to wash up.”

Brian and Callie waited in Abby’s office, pacing at times. Other times just sitting, staring at nothing. It seemed to take forever. In actuality it was only two hours before Abby came out and told Callie she could see Jake.

“How’s he doing? Will he be okay?” Brian asked as Callie hurried off to the exam room.

“I think so,” Abby said. She looked exhausted from the strain. “I gave him antibiotics, based on a pig his size. And the bullet came out okay. It had just barely entered the thigh bone. I don’t think it will affect his mobility, long term. He’s going to have trouble for a while, though.

“I gave him a painkiller, but it won’t last long. I… I’ll give you enough for four days, but he’s going to need something after that. I won’t risk my license or a jail term giving you more. I’m at risk as it is.”

“If we have to, we’ll tell the authorities we held you at gunpoint.”

Abby smiled slightly for a moment, and then said, “You’re serious!”

Brian nodded.

Her head tilted inquisitively, Abby asked, “Would you have? Held me at gunpoint?”

“I don’t know,” Brian said softly. “Probably. We didn’t have to. You were great. What do we owe you for this?”

“Nothing. I can’t charge you. That would just compound my trouble if I did that.”

“Well, if there’s anything you ever need as things change, just let me know. Mr. Johnson can get ahold of me.”

“You mean with the weather? You think this is going to get worse?”

“Much worse.”

Abby looked thoughtful. “I’ll… I’ll keep it in mind. I need to talk to Brenda and fill her in on what she needs to watch for, just in case.”

Brian waited with the others for Jake to come around. Abby checked him over again, and explained to Brenda and Callie what to do in various circumstances. Jake fell asleep while they were talking.

“Where can we find more antibiotics and painkillers?” Brian asked Abby.

“Any medical doctor can prescribe them and any pharmacy can fill the prescriptions. But any doctor is going to want to see Jake before they give any prescriptions.”

Brian nodded. “That’s what I figured. Okay. Thanks again.”

Jake was still out when they carried him to the Suburban and headed back to the camp. He groaned a bit as they made the rough journey up the fire road and then the track in to the camp.

“What about more medicine?” Brenda asked after they got Jake settled in his and Callie’s room in the main cabin of the camp.

“The only thing I know to do is take him in to a doctor in Branson. That’s closest. Have to get the authorities involved. Gunshots have to be reported. We’re going to have a hard time explaining everything.”

“But Brian…”

“I know,” Brian said softly. “Jake needs the medication. I’ll take care of it.”

They planned on letting Jake rest for another day, and then take him in to Branson to a doctor. They’d deal with whatever happened.

Cap and Jeb, with Gloria and Helen helping some, had dug a grave for Suzy at an out of the way corner of the open area around the cabins. All but Jake attended a small service. They all looked to Brian to say something over the grave since neither Alvin nor Bianca was up to it. It had been all Bianca could do to help get the body ready for burial.

Brian, not a particularly religious man, and aware of what had actually happened, since Cap had told him when the group had returned from Abbey’s, put together a few words, being as supportive of Alvin and Bianca as he could.

It was during that recuperation day that Anthony went to Brian and told him they’d lost the satellite TV stations.

“Must have lost the satellite. Are the cell phones back up, by chance?”

“I’m getting three bars,” Anthony replied.

“Good,” Brian said. It suddenly occurred to Brian that with the satellite system, a doctor could prescribe medications to the local branch of a national pharmacy chain, which could transfer the prescription to another local pharmacy.

Quickly Brian pulled his cellular phone from his belt. Sure enough, three bars of signal strength. He dialed his doctor’s office in St. Louis. “This is Brian Lanigan. I need to speak with Doctor Hughes.”

It took a couple of minutes, but the doctor finally came on the line. “Yes, Brian. What is it?”

“You don’t sound good, Doctor Hughes. Are you okay?”

“Lot of stress. Just as I’ve told you, stress can make everything else worse. Applies to doctors as much, if not more, than everyone else. Now what can I do for you?”

“It’s about this weather, Doctor. I…”

The doctor interrupted him. “Yes. The weather. Part of the stress. You’re in the news business, with your station. What can you tell me about it?”

“I’m not in the business anymore, Doctor. FCC shut me down. About what I was saying about the weather. It’s kind of why I called. I think we’re going to have what amounts to a new Ice Age. Coming on fast. I’ve left the city to get to a place I think will be safe. And…

“We’ve got a pretty good working relationship, wouldn’t you say, Doctor? I’ve always done what you’ve told me.”

“Yes… You are a good patient… What is it you wanted?”

“One of the people here… A very good friend… has been hurt. There was some trouble, and… well… he got shot. Twice. Local vet patched him up, but she was reluctant to give us more than a couple days worth of medications. I was hoping you…”

“That is highly illegal, Brian,” the doctor said sternly.

“I know. And I wouldn’t ask. But no doctor here locally is going to fill large prescriptions, like I’m hoping you will do, based on just my word they are needed and will be taken properly and not sold.”

“I see. Large prescriptions, you said. And didn’t say lots of them.”

“I’m afraid so.”

“I could loose my license.”

“I know.”

“I doubt if you know it, but I have an interest in emergency preparedness.”

“No, Doctor, I didn’t,” replied Brian, his surprise obvious in his voice. “I just developed an interest in it myself.”

“Where you are… Would you have room for two more?”

“We would. Two and half a dozen more, actually. But it’s really out in the boondocks. Backwoods Missouri Ozarks. Hunting and fishing. Of course there is Branson, for as long as it lasts.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you, Brian?”

“I am, Doctor.”

“I’m due for a vacation,” Doctor Hughes said. “Already spread my patient load to the others in the practice. What say I come down with my wife for a few days, just in case you’re right? It’s snowing here, by the way. I’ll see that some prescriptions are called in to the pharmacy of your choice.”

“Good deal,” Brian replied. After telling the doctor which pharmacy he wanted to use, he gave the Doctor instructions on how to get to Mr. Johnson’s. Brian would go in and guide the doctor out. He went to tell Callie and Brenda the good news.

During the time they were waiting on Dr. Hughes; Brian, Cap, Jeb, and Alvin loaded up the bodies of the attackers into the back of Brian’s pickup and took them to a site Cap knew about and dumped them in a rocky ravine. It didn’t take much to lever over more than enough rocks to cover the bodies. The likelihood of the bodies being found, with everything going on the way it was, was very slim.

But not slim enough to completely avoid an investigation. This time it was Helen on monitor duty when the approach warning sounded. Brian and Cap, with Anthony’s help, were stacking some of the wood that had been freshly cut. “Anthony,” Brian said, “House. Take over the monitoring. Cap and I’ll check it out.”

Brian could tell the young man wanted to go with Cap and him, but hurried off to follow Brian’s instructions. Brian and Cap had barely entered the forest when Anthony was telling them, by FRS radio, “Whoever it is went around the abatis and is back on the road.”

“Thanks, Anthony,” Brian whispered. He and Cap, armed with their rifles and a pistol or two each, shifted direction and began working their way alongside the road.

A very put out looking county deputy walked into view in just a few minutes. Brian stepped out of the forest, well in front of the deputy, keeping his rifle slung. “Can I help you, Deputy?”

“I hope so,” said the man. When he got closer, Brian could read the Deputy’s name tag. Swanson. “What’s with the barricaded road? I’m not so sure that’s legal.”

“Private property, from the county road, all the way up to the lake, much of this side of it. Got a hunting camp, with plenty of land to hunt on. You can ask Mr. Johnson, at the store. He’ll vouch for me.”

“Yeah… Well… I’ll be checking on that.”

“What is it you wanted?” Brian asked. “Surely not the road? Haven’t had anyone come up here to complain. You want to come up to the camp and get a cup of coffee? We usually have a pot on the stove.”

“No. I need to get back on patrol. We’re having some problems…” The Deputy left it at that and Brian didn’t ask. “I’m just checking on some local guys that have gone missing. Word is they came out this way. Scouting for the hunting season.”

The population of the campground had agreed on a story, just in case this situation came up. Brian gave it. “Could have been the guys that came by a couple or three days ago. Ran in to them when we were cutting wood. I don’t think they were scouting, either. Looked to me like they were all armed.

“Got a little tense, actually,” Brian continued. “It didn’t come to blows, or anything, but I was pretty hot when they left. They were really hot. Except for a couple of them. They at least were trying to talk the others down.”

Brian lifted the rifle sling where it rested on his shoulder. “We started carrying, just in case they came back wanting to start something.”

“Let me tell you something,” Deputy Swanson said, his voice firm, almost threatening, “You leave the law enforcement to us. Now, I can’t tell you not to carry on your own property, but with a gun like you’ve got, I’d say you were maybe looking for trouble rather than avoiding it.”

“If one of the guys with us cutting wood hadn’t been armed, I’m not sure what would have happened,” Brian said, letting a little heat show in his voice. “Like I said, I don’t think they were scouting. I think they were planning to do a little poaching and might not have wanted any witnesses. Normally no one would have been at the camp, except the caretaker, and he doesn’t get out much in the summer.”

The Deputy took his hat off and ran his fingers through his short hair. Returning the hat to his head, Deputy Swanson asked, “Just what are you doing up here now, anyway? You maybe poaching yourself? Season’s a long ways off. And I’ll ask again, why the blocked road?”

“Simple,” Brian said. “You know what’s going on. With the way the weather is going, I wanted out of the city before the situation turns into a real disaster.” Brian weighed carefully his next words before he spoke them. “There are several of us, and we have supplies for a month if we’re careful. We’re hoping that’ll be enough to get us by until the government does something about the situation. We’re not looking for visitors. The road is blocked to keep people like those poachers from coming up on us unawares.

“By the way,” Brian continued, before the Deputy could say anything, “we’ve got a CB we talk to Mr. Johnson with. If you need us, he can contact us, or you can get us on Channel 3 yourself. We’ll be glad to come down and talk to you so you don’t have to walk up. I guess it was just lucky I was out for a stroll.”

“Yeah. I’m sure.” It was obvious Deputy Swanson wasn’t totally happy with the situation, but he didn’t do anything about it. “I’ll be on my way. If you see some guys you let us know through Johnson. I don’t want you taking the law into your own hands. And expect Fish and Game to be out to check on you.”

“Yes, Deputy. It’s not a problem. We aren’t the ones poaching.”

Deputy Swanson hoisted his equipment belt into a slightly more comfortable position and started walking down the road. Brian headed back to the camp. It was quite a while later that Cap showed up at the camp.

“He left,” Cap told Brian, his voice low. Then, with a smile, he added, “Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust you again, old son. You told that tale with nary a bobble.”

Brian had to smile back. “Not real sure I should include that ability in my resume.”

Brian filled everyone in on what had happened. There were some relieved looks when Brian said the Deputy had left, not showing any suspicion of what had actually happened.

The one bedroom left in the main cabin was prepared for the doctor and his wife. Everyone went about their daily work, with someone always on the monitors. Brian went into Branson and got the prescriptions Dr. Hughes had written for him. Brian was thankful that the long distance phone lines were up for a second time, for the pharmacist refused to fill the prescriptions without talking to Dr. Hughes first.

But she got through and Dr. Hughes ok’d the prescriptions. There were several, each for a year’s worth of medication or in some cases, several cycles of the medication if it was of a type where a cycle was given. Even with the phone lines up, the pharmacy refused to take a credit card or honor any insurance. Cash on the barrel head. Brian paid it.

Brenda began giving Jake the medications that Dr. Hughes had suggested to Brian when Brian asked for the prescriptions.

The Amateur Radio and Shortwave radio bands were abuzz with speculation and reports of facilities and services in the directly affected areas going down without warning. Long distance telephone failed, again, and a day later their cell service.

Brian talked to Johnson regularly on the CB and he was reporting the same thing in the small towns in the area, and in Branson. Communication came down to word of mouth of people still able to travel, and shortwave information, with two-way communication via the Amateur Radios and CB. The last official word they heard was that the first storm was crossing the Atlantic, picking up speed and intensity, and a second storm had started in the Arctic, as big as, if not bigger than the first.

Brian would always remember the day that Dr. Hughes showed up. It was a month to the day he’d arrived himself. It was easy to remember. When Mr. Johnson contacted the camp on the CB and reported that Dr. Hughes had arrived at the store. That was all he said.

When Brian got to the store he noticed several vehicles parked on the store parking lot. He recognized Dr. Hughes right off. He was standing beside a Newell custom Class-A diesel pusher motorhome. There was a wagon style four axle eight-horse trailer hooked to the rear of Newell. The trailer had portable corral panels hung all around it, and more were on top.

“Doc?” Brian asked, walking up to him.

“Sure is, Brian.” Dr. Hughes was smiling. He shook Brian’s hand. “I hope you don’t mind. When you invited me down here you did mention you had room for six more besides my wife and me. I didn’t bring six more. I did bring five.” He turned toward the vehicles parked behind the Newell and horse trailer.

The first one was a diesel Ford F-350 crew cab dually pickup with a three axle fifth-wheel gooseneck trailer loaded, or more likely, overloaded, with hay. There was a second, tandem axle box trailer behind the hay trailer. Brian would have put money on the fact that it probably contained horse feed. A man and a woman got out and Dr. Hughes motioned them over.

The next rig in line was another Ford F-350 crew cab dually pickup with a fifth-wheel trailer. This trailer was a three axle box trailer. One man got out of the truck and joined Brian and the others.

A woman got out of the next rig. It was yet another Ford F-350 crew cab dually pickup, but this one had a bed cap and was pulling a three axle box trailer.

Brian decided that Dr. Hughes had been understating his interest in preparedness. This was undoubtedly a MAG. A mutual aid group, like he’d read about in Tony’s research, with common vehicles and probably a lot more.

The last vehicle was a clone of the other Ford pickups. It had a fifth-wheel gooseneck trailer. There were several tanks securely fastened to the trailer. Brian suspected at least one would be full of diesel fuel. Like the rig with hay, the last one had a second trailer. Another tandem wheel box trailer. Another man got out of the truck and joined the rest of them.

Dr. Hughes made the introductions, except for his wife. “Julie,” Dr. Hughes said, “is in the Newell, sleeping. She stood the early guard shift this morning.” Then, in turn, he made the introductions.

“This is my son and his wife, Frank and June. My good friend Dr. Eric Johanson. My daughter, Caroline. And Caroline’s husband, Bruce. Bruce is Eric’s son.”

Brian shook hands with everyone, in a bit of a daze. “I have to say, this is more than I was expecting. Much more. We have the room. Food…”

“Don’t worry about that,” Dr. Hughes said. “We came prepared.”

Bruce laughed. “He always says it like that.”

The others smiled and Dr. Hughes continued. “We have our own supplies. Had you not been able to take us in, we would have found a spot. Our intended bug-out point was to our small retreat on Lake Michigan. Obviously that was out. We were already thinking of heading here to the Missouri Ozarks when you called.”

“I see. Well, you’re all definitely welcome. Having a doctor in residence is a major advantage in what may be coming our way.”

“Oh, besides having our own supplies, and me being a doctor, we have other skills I think you will like having around. I take it you got the prescriptions after the pharmacist talked to me.”

Brian nodded.

“Well, we have not only a pharmacist in our little family, but an herbalist, as well. What one doesn’t know, the other one does. Between them we should be covered for whatever Dr. Johanson and I might need to treat with medications. Caroline is the pharmacist and Bruce the herbalist.

“Julie was a nurse and can still perform when needed. And June is an experienced nurse. Besides being an herbalist, Bruce is an all around jack of all trades. Actually a master of some. If it is outdoor related, he knows a whole bunch about it. But he owns and runs a huge landscape business to make a buck.

“Frank is another jack of all trades, master of a few. Auto mechanic, machinist, house construction, including HVAC, electrical, and plumbing work. He’s into electronics and is an Amateur Radio operator. He works for a living as an aeronautical engineer.”

Brian whistled. “Wow! Makes me feel useless.”

“Hey, you got the place to stay, and apparently were able to get stocked up despite not being one of us. Us being preparedness minded people,” Dr. Hughes said.

“Yeah. Well. Let me talk to Mr. Johnson for a minute and we’ll get going.” Brian went into the store as the others went back to their vehicles.

“Quite the entourage you have there,” Johnson said when Brian walked over to him. Brian noticed the shelves were getting very bare.

“True, I guess. But Dr. Hughes has been my doctor for a lot of years. He’s good people. How is it going here?”

“Okay. As you can see, I’m about ready to close up shop.” He swung one arm out to encompass the nearly empty shelves.

“Speaking of which, how are you going to manage?”

“Not as dumb as I look,” Johnson said with a grin. “I emptied some of those shelves myself. Things will settle down. There are a lot of good people around here. Capable. When things settle down people are going to need a place to trade, just like the old days. I plan on being here to help that along that situation.”

“Good. Like you say, life will continue. But remember, if you do need something, call us on the CB.”

Johnson nodded and shook Brian’s hand.

Brian went out and talked to Dr. Hughes through the open driver’s door of the Newell. “We’re going to be taking a different route to get to the camp than I intended. The direct way in is blocked. We’ll be going in the back way. But instead of hitting the nearest fire road that will take us there, we’ll take the long way around and come in the back side of the back side. Won’t leave as much easily spotted telltale sign that way.”

Dr. Hughes laughed. “Good thinking. We’ll have you a real prepper in no time.”

Brian got into the Suburban and the rather long convoy headed out. Though it was rough when they left the county road and got onto the fire road, all the rigs were making it okay. When they came to the faint track into the camp from the fire road they started to have some trouble.

But Dr. Hughes’ family MAG was ready for it. The main problem was the length of the rigs. It took quite a while to break the units down so the Newell could go on without the horse trailer, and the other rigs pull only one trailer going in. They turned around and picked up the dropped trailers and by the end of the day everything was parked.

It had been amusing to watch Jake’s extended family’s expressions as people and vehicles just kept coming into the camp. But those that could pitched in to help.

The corral was up, and the horses settled in with a full water trough and a bail of hay. The Newell was parked at one of the three RV spots the camp boasted. No electricity, but running water and sewer hookups. The trailers were moved to where the others were and the perimeter alarm around them adjusted to the increased size of the area being protected.

A break down dog run was set up with three of the igloo style doghouses attached to it for the five Airedales Caroline unloaded from the back of the pickup she was driving.

Brian had radioed in that there were more people than expected coming and Callie and the other women had a large enough feast prepared for everyone when the initial moving in process was completed. They’d also prepared three of the cabins for occupancy, too.

As it was, with Dr. Hughes and his wife opting to stay in the Newell, they didn’t need to use the last bedroom in the main cabin or the last unoccupied cabin. Besides the one cabin, one bedroom, there were two RV slots still available. Brian went to sleep wondering if they’d be filled before he knew it, too.

If you don't like the Weather Chapter 4