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Where to go from here?

Manuel - Well, I'm ready to find and kill the bastards who killed my family.

Mark - We might be able to do that. But we can't be rash. Let's all think a minute.

Dan - We can't live but a few days without food. And what about water?

Mark - We'll get our water from lake Madison at the end of Elmwood. As for food, we'll have to kill for it. It's all gone from the stores, and there's no more coming. We'll have to get it from the same bastards who took it from us.

Carl - You've got balls enough to go up to the mall and get our food back?

Manuel - I do. I'll give my life trying.

Mark - Let's figure out a way that you don't have to die doing that.

Jim - We can't keep food anyway, without a refrigerator.

Mark - Pioneers didn't have refrigerators, and they kept food.

Jim - We're back to living like cavemen.

Mark - Exactly. Maybe we have to start thinking like cavemen, but with more experience than they had. Our food is in canned goods. These gangs came in and took our canned goods. They're a step ahead of us. Somehow, we need to get a step ahead of them instead.

Carl - We'll have to kill them and take our stuff back.

Mark - Right. These bastards are trying to survive just like we are. But they are kicking our asses. We sit here doing nothing. We're losers in this game. But losers in this game wind up dead, by starvation or being shot.

Carl - Who's got any weapons left that they didn't find?

Manuel - I've got my granddad's goose gun right here.

Mark - They overlooked my single shot 16 gauge shotgun out on my workbench in the garage. I have a box of birdshot shells for it.

Manuel - I've got a box of 10 gauge shells for this cannon of mine. Older than hell.

Dan - I've got my son's military pistol, it's a Colt. And a box of ammo for it.

Mark - Jim. What do you have?

Jim - A slingshot. But it's powerful. I'm not very good with it.

Mark - What does it shoot, besides stones?

Jim - Ball bearings and darts.

Carl - I've got my Dad's 22 caliber ten clip pistol, and plenty of ammo for it.

Mark - Okay. We can't match up with AR-15's, but we'll have to outsmart them. My motto is "little by little". We'll peck away at their outer edges. We'll try to get decent weapons from the edges of the camp. This is a job for quiet knives. If you've got a hatchet or axe, you better stick it in your belt. This might be up close and personal. If you can't handle it, it's time for you to go home and wait for the next gang attack. Anybody?

Dan - We're with you.

Mark - We need to have a little powwow as to what our strategy is going to be, and what kind of weapons we have, in order to carry out a raid.

Dan - What about your family? Will they be all right?

Mark - My wife can get by a while on her oxygen tanks. And my mom still has all her faculties, although she's a little frail.

Jim - With this slingshot, I might as well be armed with a sharp stick.

Carl - It'll be useful if you can hit anything with it. For one thing, it's quiet.

Dan - I think we can all come up with knives of some kind.

Manuel - We need to go around and see if we can get more helpers.

Mark - We might as well check Elmwood and Airport Road. There are plenty of victims. We can send people to check the side streets.

Dan - What if we run into some Rumpf supporters?

Mark - I've got a feeling that those kind of people are already out looting. They were forewarned, and knew what was coming. The people victimized around here will be those who were distracted with other things, or just plain deniers. It'll be hard, especially in the dark, to get any of them to join in and contribute anything to our raid. If you turn up any Rumpf supporters, don't ask for trouble. Just move on. I'm not taking anyone's food away, but I'll accept any offer of weapons and ammo. We'll deal with troublemakers later, if and when we can get stronger. Everybody split up and start checking these streets around here. Meet back here in an hour or hour and a half. I don't think many people will be answering their doors. Jim and Manuel, you better go take care of Manuel's family's remains. Carl, you go down Fairview, and those side streets. Dan, you go down Elmwood and that area. I'll cover Airport Road and some side streets.

Two hours later, a group of men and women gathered in Mark's back yard, and were engaged in quiet discussion. Everybody had experienced a raid on their homes. Some were even raided by their neighbors. Out of about two hundred houses in the subdivision, the turnout of willing fighters was twenty: eighteen men, of all ages, and two women. There were stories of pickup truckloads of raiders, some flying Nazi flags, some Confederate, and some Russian. There had been gruesome and needless murders of innocents. There was a motley array of weapons being carried. Nothing looked as lethal as the automatic rifles being carried by the truck raiders, or the easy-to-deploy automatic pistols favored by the bikers. The group of twenty new arrivals had deer rifles, shotguns, a couple compound bows, some pistols - all overlooked or disregarded by the truck raiders. The two women carried axes. Everybody had a knife of some sort stuck in their belt.

Mark - Listen everybody. There's been a breakdown of law and order in this country. It's not just here. It's been developing all over for some time now. Rumpf has sold us out to the Russians. They've been infiltrating our government and our intstitutions. They've been turning us against one another. White against black and brown. Religious against non-religious. Christians against non-Christians. They have taken the strengths of this nation and made us use them against ourselves. President Rumpf was blackmailed and used as a puppet to divide and weaken the nation and cut us off from our allies. Russians have moved in and used their computer expertise to disrupt our communications, utilities, transportation, banking, and most everything. What's going on right now is that we've been reduced to fighting among ourselves for survival. Russians knew how to set up polarization here to paralyze the country. We were betrayed by Rumpf, Goppers, oligarchs, ignorant supporters, and domestic propagandists like Flox News and Hammerty. They lucked out and got the fool Rumpf elected to the most powerful position in the world, and then they used him to position themselves as all-powerful. They were smart enough to get us to elect a fool into power, and then used our devotion to "law and order" to deploy a long and complicated remedy against an idiot, while they used the ample time to work their destructive mischief. We were warned many times of what was happening. Most of us ignored it because it seemed so absurd. It all unfolded faster than people could put pen to paper. Alarm bells were ignored. Now here we are facing the consequences. Some of us are thinking of raiding the edges of the mall parking lot to get weapons and food. We are open to any other suggestions, and welcome your input.

A gray haired woman spoke up, and said "Hi. I'm Abby, and this is my husband Jerry", indicating a tall balding man next to her.

Abby - We live behind you on Clearview. You met my husband earlier this summer in our back yard. We're retired schoolteachers.

Mark - Do you have some ideas, Abby? That's what we're gathering here for.

Abby - Yes. We think we should prioritize the food and water. A lot of people out here have kids and elderly folks at home. We aren't fighters.

There was some head nodding and murmurs of agreement.

Mark - I'll bet we can't scratch up enough food to last a week. Two at the most. We're thinking of getting our water from Lake Madison at the end of Elm Street.

The other woman in the group spoke up. "I'm Emma from over on Park Street". She had short dark hair, and looked like she was maybe in the military at one time.

Emma - I served in Iraq. I know a little about weapons and tactics. My uncle has a small farm about three miles west, just a little way off Cadmus Road. I don't know if he's been raided, but he has crops and livestock out there that we can hopefully use to stretch out our time. He's got some chickens and eggs, some pigs, a couple milk cows, and plenty of corn that can be ground up. He's got well water. For all I know, he's been murdered, robbed, and burned out.

Mark - Yeah. We've got to get out there and check it out. This could get us out of a real jam.

Emma - These guys you're talking about going up against, won't be pushovers. They're ruthless brutes, and they're well armed. Some of them have automatic rifles and pistols, and are itching to use them. Some of them are just young, brainless kids, willing to take any stupid risk, just to impress their buddies. I know. My old buddies called me "Wildcat".

Mark - Maybe we can use that against them. They used our strengths against us, and our faults against us. Maybe we can turn the tables on them.

Emma - Yeah. But some of these guys are skinheads. I'm pretty sure that some of them are Russian operatives. Those guys have some game. And like I said, they're ruthless. I'm pretty sure they killed some people up by me. Innocent people who were no threat to them. Just for the fun of it.

Mark - Manuel Lopez, across the street, saw his whole family killed because they were brown. They like to get up close and use knives. That suggests to me that they are inclined to save ammo. They don't have an unlimited supply of it.

Manuel - I want to get even. I took note of who did it: the truck, the faces. I was a coward, and I should have died with my family.

Emma - You might get your chance to even the score. I'm going to propose that we attack solitary trucks, rather than try to pull a sneak attack on a large group up at the mall. We don't have the expertise or the equipment for an attack like that.

Mark - You're right. A handful of us might be able to take out a single pickup truck. But remember - some of those guys might be on our side. The ones who were here, weren't interested in killing anyone. I was given a choice of joining, or just being looted. How do we identify one from another?

Dan - Good point.

Carl - I've got a hunch that the Goppers are up at the mall.

Jim - Maybe the friendlies are out at the county airport.

Mark - We need to figure that out. So far, we're just speculating and assuming.

Dan - But you didn't join up.

Mark - Not at the time. I've got people who need safe shelter and care.

Emma - At the farm, there's a big barn.

Mark - Yeah. But we're going to need transport vehicles with gas in them.

Emma - Again, we need to capture one or more pickup trucks. We can pick them out because they like to fly flags. They have to identify themselves to one another. We'll use their vanity and bragging against them.

Mark - A good place to ambush them is down at the Raisin River bridge on Cadmus. It's dark. They'll be coming from the mall, and probably flying a flag. We lay a good-sized limb in the road. They can't go around it there. They'll have to stop and get out to move it.

Dan - It sounds good. But we'll have to kill people, for sure. Do we have a group here who can handle that kind of thing?

Mark - Well, I guess this is where we'll have to sort out the unwilling from the willing, and the victims from the survivors. Just remember folks - these are merciless killers. who believe they are superior to us, and are entitled to behave as they do because they have been sanctioned to do so by their party and by President Rumpf. It appears to me that we have a workable plan, and if we stick together and work together, we have a better chance of making it.

Carl - Uh, what if there's more than one truck at a time? There might be a little convoy of two or three.

Jim - Well yeah. We can't handle that.

Mark - To work best, we need a single truck. If there's two or three, we'll have a problem.

Emma - Now we need a more elaborate plan. Remember - use their strength against them. They have a couple guys in the cab of the truck, and the other five or six sit in back in the bed of the truck. Does anyone have any kerosene?

Mark - I have lots of it. I have kerosene heaters, and big cans of kerosene.

Emma - Then we make Molotov cocktails. We'll throw them into the back of the trucks. Anyone in the back will be toast.

Carl - Yeah. A bottle of kerosene with a soaked wick on fire, breaks, and the kerosene splashes out in a big fireball.

Dan - But the bottle has to break. These bottles and jars nowadays are heavy glass. Throw one into the road, and it just bounces around.

Jim - Too bad we couldn't make a flame thrower. Like a big squirt gun of burning kerosene.

Mark - Any ideas Emma?

Emma - Use a fancy crystal glass. I've never dropped one that didn't break. Fill it with kerosene. Duct tape the top, with a wick hanging out. Light it and throw it. It should break open, and splash fire all over the occupants in the back.

Mark - Okay, let's plan out the details.

Dan - Right. Let's plan out every detail. Who, what, where, and when. We don't dare fail.

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