As Will was making the coffee, Gary left April and walked around the warehouse. The smell of a feed warehouse was comforting and reminded him of past trips to hardware stores in spring, searching for plants and gardening supplies. As Gary walked around he noticed shrink-wrapped seed bags stacked about 4 feet high. He thought that if he were a kid that this would be a great place to play hide and seek. Ruthie would have had fun in here. Gary wanted to think further about the dream he had earlier that morning; so he climbed on a pallet and sat down trying to analyze it. He knew that the blue hats had acquired nuclear weapons and he knew that they would use them eventually. He also knew that the President had moved to another bunker, could that possibly be the location on the map he had…Site R? Questions and more questions…it was puzzling.
Will called out to Gary “What do you take in your coffee?”
“Just some sugar, thanks Will” Gary’s train of thought was broken as Will came out carrying a steaming mug of strong black coffee, with just a little sugar. “This is excellent Will, thanks.” Gary said as he sipped the first cup.
“I have an idea on how to get you two out of here.” Will spoke through sips of coffee
“What are you thinking?”
“We take one of these pallets and strip off the shrink wrap and the bags of feed. We then take and build up the outside with feed bags creating a hollow space. You and April climb inside with your stuff and I put a pallet on top with a layer or two of feed. I’ll shrink wrap the whole shebang, and forklift you two onto the truck. We drive off nice and pretty. What do you think?”
“Sounds fine, I think that that’ll work Will.” Gary said
“By the way, are either of you chipped?” Will asked
“I’m not, but April has one which she’s covered with tin foil, why”
“If you have an active chip, they’ll be able to scan the truck and it will show up. Let me get the scanner and double check, ok?” Will picked up a hand held scanner which they used to help customers make their purchases; pointing it at April and Gary it showed no active chips.
“How does it work?” Gary asked
“Well, we bring the customers in here and whatever they want we scan it, just like at a grocery store. Only with this Encompass thing, you then scan the customer and it instantly debits their account and credits mine.”
“Ok, let’s get started” Will and Gary cut off the plastic shrink wrap on a pallet of Purina 50 lb bags of Horse Feed. Taking the bags off and setting them aside, the two men had the pallet stripped in a few minutes.
Gary took a moment and savored another sip of the cooling coffee. April was walking around the warehouse and came up to Gary. “Hey what was the name of the company that the short-wave radio guy talked about?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know; the company that makes the genetically altered food.”
“I don’t remember the exact name April.”
“You mean, AGR?” Will looked at April “The company is Applied Genetics Research. They are the ones that made that corn over there…” Will pointed to a large section of the warehouse where stacked and wrapped pallets were “…the yields from their product is amazing.”
“The guy on the radio said that there might be something else with that seed.” April said
“I sure as hell hope not, we’ve got everyone that plants corn in the county using that stuff this year.” Will said
“Gary found a small pad of paper and pencil that provided to customer for making notes and went over to the stacks of seed. “AGR-CP-501 Sweet Yellow Corn” Gary spoke the product code as he wrote it down, when he finished he folded the paper and put it in his pocket.
The stack of feed was about three feet high when Gary and April climbed in, followed with their packs and the Garand. Will continued to stack the feed until it was the same height as the full pallets; he then man handled an empty pallet on top of the two and stacked on two more full rows. Will then left.
As he went to get the large roll of shrink wrap. “This is pretty tight, don’t you think?” Gary said to April who was just a few of inches away.
“It’s not as nice as our cave.”
“Our cave? Hmmm, next thing I know you’ll start hanging pictures in ‘our’ cave.” Gary chuckled
“You know what I mean.” April was somewhat flustered at her subconscious choice of words.
Gary was laughing at the flustered April “Yeah, I do.”
“Hey are you two ok in there?” Will was back with the wrap
“Yeah we’re fine. We aren’t going to suffocate in here are we?” Gary asked
“No you shouldn’t, you have the base which is open. There should be plenty of air.” Will said as he began to wrap the stacked pallet. “Alright, it’s going to get a little bumpy with the fork lift, so hang on.”
Will left and they heard the fork lift start up and then felt the tines slide into the pallet beneath them. With the power increasing on the fork lift the pallet raised and tilted slightly back, causing April and Gary to pile up against the side. Before Gary or April could banter any about their confines, Will drove the fork lift out to the loading dock.
“I’ll be back in a minute. I’ve got to get the truck.”
Gary and April sat in the dark until they heard Wills truck back up to the dock and the door open and close. Will expertly loaded the pair onto the back of the pick up and closed the tail gate.
“We’ve got a little bit of driving to do, so if we get stopped at the check point; I don’t have to tell you to be quiet.” Will said
“Will? Where are we going?” April asked
“To see Dr. Adams.”
“Dr Adams, the Veterinarian?”
“Yup” With that Will started the truck and slowly drove off. Pulling out onto the street and driving slowly through town. Outside of Simmonsville the truck picked up speed on the rural country roads.
“Do you know Dr. Adams?” Gary asked through the wind noise.
“Sure, everyone who has animals in this county knows Dr. Adams. She’s really nice and is a darned good Vet.”
The truck slowed and came to a stop. Gary and April knew that they were at the check point. Listening to the conversation between Will and the soldier “What is your business today?” The soldier had a Middle Eastern accent
“I have some special Horse Feed for Dr. Adams, the veterinarian.” Will said
The soldier walked to the rear of the truck and scanned the pallet. Satisfied that there wasn’t anything unusual about the load, he waved them on.
“Excellent” Gary whispered
They traveled for another 15 minutes at a fairly high rate of speed, and then slowed as they felt the truck pull onto a slushy, pot holed parking lot. The truck stopped and then Will put it in reverse and backed into a large barn. Will got out and came to the truck bed “Hey, are you two alright?”
“Yeah, we’re fine.” April said
“Give me a minute and I’ll have you out.” Will climbed onto the bed and taking his knife; he cut the shrink wrap off and started removing bags and the top pallet. When the top cover was removed, the pair stood up and stretched in the confines of the barn.
“How many soldiers were at the check point?” Gary questioned
“Five, but it looked like only one was doing any work.” Will said “Come on let’s take your stuff inside and meet the Doc.”
Walking across the graveled parking lot which was now muddy with melting snow, the pair went into the farm house converted into a home office. Will opened the door and walked in followed by April and then Gary. “Hey Terrie; are you decent?” Will announced
Gary thought that was a strange thing to say, however when Dr. Adams appeared, he saw why, as Will put his arms around the Doctor, hugging her and then kissing her.
“Now that’s what I call customer service!” Gary said smiling at the pair
“April? Oh, my! You’re alive! Oh, honey we heard about your parents, we are all so sorry for your loss…are you ok?” Dr. Adams knew the Finney’s as she knew many of the people in the county
“I’m dealing with it Dr. Adams. I guess that it hasn’t really sunk in yet…we’ve been pretty busy trying to get away.” April said motioning to her friend and protector Gary.
Dr. Adams turned to Gary “Hi, I’m Dr. Adams…Terrie Adams. Sorry to be meeting under these circumstances” as she extended her hand to Gary.
“I’m Gary Martin; it’s a pleasure to meet you too.” Gary said shaking her hand. Gary looked at the visual contrasts between Will and Terrie. Will looked to be in his mid 60’s; he was tall and balding, while Terrie was in her mid 30’s. Terrie was a very attractive woman by any standard, although not as thin as the glamour magazines would make you think that a ‘perfect woman’ would be, she radiated a down home farm beauty. “Terrie, Will says that you can help us.”
Terrie and Will looked at each other “I can be of some help to you two, but…” Terrie paused and looked at the muddy boots that Gary, April and Will were wearing “….why don’t you take off your boots and come into the house. I’ve got someone that I want you to meet.”
Will, Gary and April followed Terrie into the house without their boots. Gary had the two packs, held by the shoulder straps and the Garand. Terrie’s house mirrored her love of nature with plants in every corner and scenic photos and paintings on the walls. It was a beautiful home with wide hallways and an open airy kitchen. The entire house was day light bright from the Plexiglas sky lights and large glassed windows.
“Jonathan!” Terrie called to the rear of the house. “There are some people here that I want you to meet…come on out.”
Gary saw the real reason for the openness of the home as Jonathan came out of his room rolling in his wheel chair. Jonathan rolled up to April “April! I knew you would make it. Sorry about your family.” Said the boy in the chair
“Jonathan, this is Gary Martin” Will said as an introduction
“Jonathan, I’m Gary it’s good to meet you.” Gary said
Jonathan shook Gary’s hand and looked at him from head to foot. “So…are you the one?”
“The one, what?” Gary replied
“The one who took out the twenty soldier assault team, at the Finney’s?” Jonathan looked at Gary’s holstered pistol.
Gary paused for a moment “I guess that I am…the one”
“Sweet” Jonathan looked at Will “I told you my theory was correct”
“Jon has been analyzing our situation here in the US for the past three years Gary. He’s come up with a few theories and has made real progress in getting inside of their system” Will commented
“Jon, Gary and April need our help.” Terrie said
“Mr. Martin, what is it that you are trying to do?”
Gary looked at the teenager in the wheel chair. It looked like he had either stayed up late the night before or had just got out of bed as his blonde hair was messed up. “April and I need some transportation to Georgia.” Looking at Terrie “What about one of your horse trailers? Maybe we could do something similar to what Will did for us coming over here?”
“Mr. Martin, although that worked for a short trip, you need to be set up for something longer. I’m afraid you would be caught in short order.” Jonathan said looking up at Gary “Where specifically in Georgia are you going?”
Gary looked down at Jonathan, and didn’t know if he could trust him or his Mom or Will with the specifics. “You’ve got to understand something Jonathan, this is important, and…” Gary paused momentarily
Jonathan interrupted Gary “Sir, I can understand that you might have an issue about trusting us, and I would too if I was in your position. However, that being said, without knowing the specifics of your mission, I don’t think I can be much of a help…to you or April.”
“Specifics of my mission?” Gary turned to Terrie “Does he always talk like this?”
Will, Terrie and April said as one “Yes…he does”
Gary still didn’t want to get into specifics “Ok, look Jonathan. I want you to understand that I am a wanted man. April is also…”
Jonathan interrupted Gary again “No sir; you’re not wanted, and neither is April”
Gary looked at the teen “Explain”
“They are actually looking for a group of soldiers, which they suspect are rogue Special Forces’ troops. They are estimating that there are twenty to thirty of them hiding in the mountains. They also surmise that they happened onto the Finney’s and the fire-fight resulted in their defeat, but they are claiming that they killed at least twenty of the ‘attackers’ who then dragged their bodies away. April is listed as being dead, sir.” Jonathan dealt his hand first
“How do you know this?”
Terrie spoke up “Jon, why don’t you show Mr. Martin your room.”
Jonathan looked at Gary and his eyes went down to the pistol again. “Follow me, sir”
Jonathan led Gary down the hallway to his room. April and the others followed a few steps behind. Upon reaching Jons room; Gary stood in the door way. “Holy crap kid, is there any piece of electronic equipment that you don’t have?” Jonathan’s room was filled with shelves and racks of computers and electronics, most of which only he knew what their purpose was for.
“Actually sir, there is a lot that I don’t have. Most of what you see here I’ve had to build myself” Jonathan said beaming
“Jonathan I’m impressed, however that still doesn’t answer how you know that they are looking for twenty to thirty guys and that Aprils is dead.”
Jonathan rolled up to his desk which had two computers running. “Sir, I have access to the Encompass system.”
“No shit! How’d you do that?” Gary was impressed now
Jonathan paused and stammered “Um…well…I hacked into it a little deeper than what we’ve been allowed here.”
“They’ve allowed you access?”
“Oh, yes sir. You see Mom’s business is connected to the Encompass system. We have to ID electronically the animals she treats and submit various electronic documents. I’ve used that portal to gain access into other…more sensitive areas.”
“Nice…so how long have you been doing this?” Gary was very impressed with Jonathan
“Almost three years now, sir.”
“You say that you’ve gotten into sensitive areas…just how sensitive?”
“I haven’t been able to breach the security firewall for the classified military communications, but I have access to the non-classified and administrative side of the system. You can tell a lot about what’s going on by what’s being said through their non-classified and administrative side.”
“Well for example, I know that there were twenty men killed, because they ordered twenty body bags from Supply. They also made arrangements for a flight to Pakistan. I assume that is to deliver the bodies back to their home. They also ordered 24/7 reconnaissance from the Predators and increased man power from other areas, including Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles. I can tell that by their requisition of fuel and ammunition types.”
“Very good work Jonathan, I’m impressed” Gary gave Jonathan a physical pat on the back
“Now sir, if you would tell me where you are going, I think I might be able to help you.” Jonathan had just earned Gary’s trust
“Kings Bay Georgia. What do you know about it?”
“Wow, sir. Kings Bay is the home port to the Ohio class Trident ballistic missile submarines based on the east coast. As you can imagine, sir, it is a very secure location. Kings Bay has also been in the news and on the internet groups lately as being the home to two of the three subs that have been lost…rumor has it that they were sunk.”
“We are going to meet with April’s High School History teacher, Mrs. Miller”
“I know Mrs. Miller, she was a good teacher.” Jonathan called over his shoulder “April isn’t Mrs. Miller’s husband in the Navy?”
“Yes he is.” April answered
Gary turned and walked out of the cluttered room and headed back towards the dining room with Jonathan and the others in tow. Once there; Gary pulled out a chair from the dining room table and turned it to face Jonathan. Noticing that Jonathan’s eyes were again on his pistol, Gary started to remove his jacket. Although Gary had removed his boots as did April and Will, he hadn’t taken off his jacket. Standing up in front of Jonathan and unzipping his camo coat, revealing the holstered Ruger and the crisscrossed green cloth bandoleers of Garand en bloc clips. Jonathan’s eyes grew wide. Gary set the grenade and ammo laden jacket down with an audible thud and turned to the other three “Hey guys pull up a chair and have a seat.” The trio sat to the side of Gary as he faced Jonathan. “I see you like my pistol.” Gary said to Jonathan, who nodded yes. Gary unbuckled the flap of the holster and drew the Kimber out. Releasing the magazine, Gary pulled back the stainless steel slide and ejected the chambered round. The Kimber was now empty and Gary released the slide, creating a sharp metallic snap as it traveled forward and closed forcefully. He handed the Kimber to Jonathan who beamed as a kid would on Christmas Day. Jonathan took the weapon and started to point it at an imaginary target, as he did Gary snatched it quickly out of his hand. “Lesson number one: Treat EVERY weapon as if it was loaded.”
“But I saw you unload it” Jonathan protested
“I don’t care what you saw, whenever anyone hands you a weapon you make sure that it is either loaded or unloaded, understand?” Gary was very stern with Jonathan and April on this matter. “Lesson number two: only point a weapon at what you intend on shooting…” Gary looked at April and Jonathan to get agreement. “…finally, lesson number three: only shoot at what you intend to kill.” April and Jonathan nodded in agreement to the lesson. Gary handed the stainless steel pistol back to Jonathan, who pulled the slide back as he was just taught. “Good…that .45 you are holding. I killed two men with it.”
Jonathan’s head came up and looked at Gary to see if he was joking…he wasn’t. Jonathan handed the Kimber to April and she did as Jon did; checking to see if it was loaded, then gingerly laid it on her lap.
Gary took the Ruger out of its holster and releasing its magazine and chambered round, handed it to Jonathan who immediately checked the chamber.
“Does this have a silencer?
“Yeah…” Gary said “…it is made to kill quietly. I’ve killed six people with it.”
Jonathan looked at Gary. He had never met anyone who actually admitted to taking another persons life. Gulping he asked “Is it really quiet?”
“It is pretty quiet, although not like Hollywood would like for you to believe. There is nothing as quiet as this…” Gary stood and with one very fast and practiced move; reached for his Benchmade knife that he always kept clipped to his right side pants pocket and simultaneously pulled it out and opened it with a metal on metal click. “This is quiet...but very messy.” Gary paused to let his ‘show’ sink in with the young man “Listen to me for a minute Jonathan; this isn’t a game. This isn’t something where if you lose you can try to replay it at another level until you get it right. If you lose here…you die. You might think that killing twenty soldiers is a good deed, but son…I failed. My friends were killed and I couldn’t stop it.” Gary paused again as he took Jonathans hand into his. “Jon...April and I need your help. We need nothing less than the best you’ve got, understand?”
Jon nodded yes and the lesson was well taken with both him and April. “Sir, if you’ll give me a little while, I’ve got something that I know will help get you there.” With that he turned and rolled to his room.
“Gary, Jon won’t come out of that room until he has it figured out. I can tell you this; my son is a very special young man. I don’t think I know of anyone smarter than he is, and that’s not just his Mom talking either.” Terrie commented proudly
“Terrie, I’m sorry for the drama with the weapons. I thought that it might be the best way to show him just how serious this is.” Gary said
“Oh, you got through to him, that’s for sure” Terrie and Will laughed “Gary…April; how about some lunch?”
“That sounds excellent Terrie.” Gary said
“I’ll help you Terrie” April said following her into the kitchen
“I’m going to head back to the store, is there anything you might need Gary?” Will said
“I don’t think so, but thanks for asking”
Will walked down the hallway to Jonathans room and had a brief conversation with him, as he left he gave the thumbs up sign to Gary.
Lunch was a large platter of sandwiches with potato chips and glasses of cold milk. Jonathan’s portions were taken to him in his room. When Terrie returned she said “He is one happy camper right now. I don’t think I have ever seen him so consumed.”
After Gary had finished his lunch he asked “Terrie, would you mind if I took a little nap? I saw some bales of hay in your barn where I can lay down; I really need some time to think.” Gary said
“Actually Gary, we converted the loft in the barn to a small apartment. There is a shower and bed, so you two make yourself at home.”
Gary thanked her; and after putting on his boots he picked up the packs and the Garand, heading to the barn. When he was halfway across the parking lot, he heard “Wait!” April came jogging out of the house. “I want to go with you; do you mind?”
“No, I don’t mind.” He said smiling
April held out her hand “Look cave man…a razor. You know, us ‘cave-women’ like our Neanderthal men to be clean shaven.”
“Smart aleck, woman” Gary smiled as April wrapped her arm in his, walking together.