Gary instantly sat up, wide awake from the previous visions. With the stench of burning oil lingering in his senses, it was the conversation with Ruthie which he held dear. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he spoke softly to her. “I don’t know why they killed you and Mommy, Ruthie…It was my fault sweetie, they should have killed me instead. I am so very sorry. I love you and Mommy so much and I miss you” He said as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
Gary unzipped the sleeping bag and looked at the dying fire as placed a few more pieces of wood on the fire and started to prepare for the day ahead. Finding and lighting a candle, his eyes adjusted to the slowly brightening cave. Gary could feel the cold of the outside through the caves granite walls and he quickly dressed into his gray and brown hunting clothes.
First on the days agenda was to cook some coffee and check his schedule. It was the schedule that kept him focused. Gary had allocated specific days for certain tasks. Every third day he went down to the stream and filled the two five gallon jugs with water, every fourth day he climbed to the ridgeline and cut firewood, and every two weeks he made the journey across his mountain and the next one over to the east to his friends farm to pick up food and other supplies he purchased.
Today was a free day. The food pickup was a week away, water jugs were filled and there was enough firewood to last a week or so. It would be a reconnaissance day, to the west this time. In the dim light, Gary studied the road map he recovered from his cache. Thinking that the next time, if there ever was a next time, and hoping to God there would never ever be a next time, he would have placed topographic maps in his cache instead of just a road map.
Standing upright, his head had enough room to clear the ceiling by only a few inches. The rising heat from the fire had warmed the ceiling area a few degrees higher than the stone and dirt floor. Taking a few steps towards the front and only entrance, he removed the pine boughs that made the makeshift inner doorway to the outside world. Peeling back the inner boughs and pushing away the outer boughs Gary was greeted with a blast of cold wind and a gray cloud covered daylight.
Stepping outside of the hidey-hole he had called home for the past four months, Gary’s eyes adjusted to the morning light as he slowly scanned the area. It was a late winter colorless morning, although not quite early spring as the trees and bushes along the ridges and slopes of the mountains had not yet started to come into bud.
The view below him was of the valley and a single tracked railroad line which paralleled a small briskly flowing stream. A freight train made a twice weekly early morning run south along this track. The valleys to the east had hard surfaced roads that ran through them; however his valley only had a gravel access road that ran alongside the train tracks.
Satisfied that he was still alone and after relieving himself, Gary kneeled down and backed into his winter hold out. The interior was brighter now that the doorway was removed, so Gary sat down and placed some more fuel on the fire. Filling up the coffee pot, he started breakfast. His food was very basic, it always seemed that there was something else that his stomach and taste buds demanded; after all you can only east so much rice, beans and venison.
Looking over his map as he ate breakfast, in the same way one would read the morning paper, Gary could see the five fingered linear mountain ridges he had penciled in. The mountains, which were more like large long hills, ran north and south and were spread out just like five fingers. Geographically he was on the third ridge of the five from east to west and was close to the Pennsylvania border in northern Maryland west of Thurmont. The nearest town was about five miles to the south, a small spot not even registering on the map as a town, named Simmonsville. The ridge lines of the five mountains were, as far as he could tell about 1,500 feet high. Gary’s cave home was about 500 ft below the ridgeline and faced west.
He had scouted the east areas between the first ridge and the second a few months previous, finding a small dairy farm and a sympathetic farmer. It was dangerous to come out into the open and meet people now; however Gary had met a family who really helped him with some food and basic items such as plastic water jugs, rope, a blue plastic tarp, a warm micro-fiber fleece blanket and a few neglected pots and utensils.
The line between legal and illegal was razor thin when it came to helping someone like Gary. The law said; if you don’t have an Encompass ID, you don’t buy anything, and you don’t sell anything, it was that simple. However, the family that had helped Gary took that risk, and Gary really appreciated that.
Farmer John was what he called himself and the look and title fit perfectly. John wore blue coveralls under a tan and dirt colored canvas winter coat and a railroader’s blue and white striped rumpled hat. John took Gary into Simmonsville and introduced him to the Feed store owner as a temporary worker for his farm. Feed stores in small towns usually carried more than farm supplies and if they didn’t have it in stock, they could get it. Gary told the owner what he was looking for, a large frameless back pack, fanny pack, a set of gray camouflage pants, shirt and coat. They placed an order through a large sporting goods catalog for those and for insulated underwear, wool socks, gloves and a military styled Boonie hat. He also asked for a battery powered LED lantern with extra batteries. The Feed store also had some hunting and camping supplies that didn’t fall under the illegal category so Gary purchased what he felt he needed, especially the Turkey hunting camouflage accessories. Will the stores owner; took the silver coins that Gary offered to pay for the equipment and quickly slid them off of the counter before anyone saw this illegal activity. Gary knew that Will had overcharged him, however, the value of the Pre-64 Silver Quarters and Half-dollars were highly inflated, so all things being equal and with the risk that Will took with selling him this equipment, Gary was most appreciative of this kindness.
Farmer John had been kind enough to pick up his ordered clothes a week or so later and placed them in a location that they had set up as his food drop. Gary made regular trips to John’s dairy farm every two weeks, usually in the hours between twelve midnight and four A.M.. The food was placed in a green canvas duffel bag, which Gary exchanged with a note of thanks what he needed on the next trip, accompanied with the appropriate number of silver coins in payment.
On his last ‘free day’, Gary had shot a small whitetail deer and still had three quarters of the doe’s carcass hanging in the rear of the cave. The doe would soon be ready for stripping out to be dried and smoked for jerky. Venison was the main source of meat for him, although he wished that John would one day place a big fat steak in his duffel. However, the odds of a beautiful rib eye steak were about as good as having a strawberry cheese cake in his food bag…slim to none. A soot covered stainless steel pot held red beans and water to soak on the simmering fire as he planned to stew some of the venison and beans for supper. Creating meals was a pleasure that he had enjoyed before his troubles began and he still enjoyed it, even though it was for one instead of for three.
There was a natural path that led gradually lengthwise along the entire outward slope that gave him a moderate climb up or down, which ever way he wanted to access his cave. Crawling out of the cave and heading up the three foot wide granite walkway towards the top of his ridge for another nature call, he found the area beautifully peaceful, with just a mild breeze whistling through the bare trees rising up from the valley floor. Low cloud mists swirled around intermittently and occasionally blocked his view below. As he was making the downhill walk down from the ridge top, a glimpse of movement stopped him dead in his tracks. An olive drab military vehicle was moving along the dirt access road in the valley below. Gary immediately crouched down, although at this altitude and distance the occupants of the dark green Humvee wouldn’t be able to see him, unless they were tipped off or there was a Predator overhead. Gary low walked to the cave entrance and quickly slipped inside. Once there and having set the roll of toilet paper down, he went to his backpack for a small pair of high quality binoculars.
Crawling out of the cave entrance, Gary lay at ground level beside a boulder and began to focus on the Humvee which was north of his position. The Humvee turned right onto a seldom used and hidden dirt road. Although it was difficult to measure the exact distance, Gary felt that it was between five hundred to six hundred yards. As the vehicle moved along the dirt road Gary was able to get glimpses of it occasionally through the barren trees. His Baush and Lomb binoculars were intended for bird watching, their small size and excellent optics gave a clear picture of the scene below. Gary watched intently as the Humvee disappeared completely into the woods.
The dampness of the ground made his body ache while the heat from inside his jacket radiated outward, fogging up his glasses. After lying on the ground for what seemed like a few minutes, which actually was more like an hour, sounds of automatic weapons fire echoed up from the valley below. The multiple gunshots, muffled by the woods where they originated, bounced off of the granite walls of the surrounding canyon, along with what sounded like the muted sounds of laughing and cheering.
“Sounds like someone’s having a party” Gary whispered to himself, his breath coming out in clouds of visible vapor.
After a few moments the Humvee came into view and out of the woods. Turning north, the direction in which they originally entered the valley and headed slowly out of view.
With a new found sense of urgency, he gathered his weapons and backpack. Setting aside the anxiety and inner terror of what exactly the Humvee was doing there, Gary focused on his kit.
First the large backpack was loaded with three military pre-packaged meals from his cache, the nylon gray and brown fine meshed Turkey hunting camo net, compass, flashlight, gloves, first aid kit, a roll of silver quarters, filled canteens, extra ammunition for his pistols and an extra bandoleer for his M1 Garand rifle. The weapons came next. First on was the .45 caliber pistol on his leather belt holster and two spare magazines. Next, the Ruger Mark lll silenced .22 pistol went on the left side cross draw shoulder holster, this he wore on the inside of his gray camouflage jacket. After the pistols were secured he slung crisscrossed across his shoulder two bandoleers containing fourteen en bloc clips for the Garand. Lastly, Gary placed two Mk 67 Fragmentation grenades, one in each waist pocket of his jacket and two spare magazines for the Ruger in his top left pocket. Gary put on his military styled Boonie cap and came out of the cave, pushing the backpack ahead of him. Although his best chance of survival was to remain unseen, he was fully armed and equally prepared to act if discovered.
Reaching the top of the ridge he paused to rearrange his pack, making sure the camo netting was easily accessible and drank some water. After looking over the area below, he decided the best way down to the valley floor was by the south end of the ridge. The south end had a steeper drop than that of the north end; however it was shorter to the valley floor. The south end was also the direction he took to Farmer Johns place, so it was very familiar. Stalking through the barren woods brought back all of the memories from his hunting days, many years ago. Whether it was hunting squirrels or deer, Gary felt at home in the woods. It took him about a half an hour to reach the valley floor below; it was here that he became even more cautious.
Moving through the bushes and briars slowly and in a low crouch, Gary approached and then crossed the icy stream, with its slippery moss covered rocks. On elbows and knees he crawled to the edge of the railroad track. Looking left and right, satisfied that nothing was coming in either direction, Gary ran across the tracks and the gravel access road into the woods on the far side. Pausing momentarily to look and listen for any movement while catching his breath, he slowly moved deeper into the woods. Once he was satisfied that he was alone, Gary continued to head west towards the base of the mountain, which he had identified on his road map as mountain number four.
Reached the base of the granite out cropping, he paralleled it north towards the dirt road where the Humvee had entered and exited. As he moved further north, a unseen feeling of dread and terror descended upon him. Pausing, with his mind fully alert and his weapon at the ready, time seemingly stood still. The smell arrived a moment later; it was the unmistakable stench of death. Following his nose, Gary saw the deceased, piled up like so much trash. On top of the heap were the unfortunate souls who were murdered earlier in the day, while underneath were the ones that had been dumped previously.
Gary walked around the dead, cautious and sickened at the same time. This recent group looked to be about four people on top of a pile of maybe twenty five or thirty other decomposing bodies. Lying off to the side was a decapitated blood soaked corpse, an adult male dressed in a plain black suit. Gary looked around and saw the mans head about fifteen feet away laying face down next to a small bush. Walking over and using his Garand to move it around, he saw that the man was obviously Jewish. His Yarmulke had been taped into his mouth, probably before he was beheaded. The blood trails left the distinct impression that the people who did this had kicked his head around like a medieval soccer ball. Gary turned back analyzing the others. There were two nude women, actually one woman, maybe the mother and one a young teenaged girl. The young girl had been disemboweled and raped, the mother had also been raped and her throat slit. As he examined them closer, he also noticed something strange with them all; each had the backs of their heads sliced open and their Encompass chips removed. Kneeling next to the nude women, he saw a small hand protruding from beneath the lifeless young teen. Carefully rolling her over, revealed a baby boy. Gary, put his feelings aside and moved the girl off the baby. The toddler looked to be about six months old; he was beaten and stabbed to death.
Removing his backpack and setting the rifle aside, he sat next to the bodies and held the young lad. Gazing at the beautiful young boy with dark hair and lifeless eyes, he rocked him, crying silently over him. Feelings and images about his own family’s death three years earlier came to him like a flood. Whenever these memories came up, so did the rage. As Gary wiped the tears from his eyes, an audible inner voice spoke to him.
“Take his chip.”
The voice was familiar; whoever spoken it had guided him, saving his life on more than one occasion.
Gary quietly said “Ok”
Taking the young boy, he held him as if he was his own son. He hugged this beautiful and battered child, whispering into his lifeless ear. “I am so sorry you went through this.”
Gary felt behind the boy’s neck and found where the chip resided. Using his pocket knife, he made an incision as gently as he could, and removed the device. Kissing the boys cheek he placed the boy gently down with his mother. Tears and choking cries bubbled through his lips uncontrollably as his body shook with the pain of their deaths. Reaching inside his pants pocket and finding a small folded square of aluminum foil, he opened it up, and placed this chip with the four others already in the foil then refolded it. He had no idea why he carried the chips; he just did as he was told by ‘the voice.’
In a heart broken stupor, Gary picked up his pack and rifle, moving away from the dead. He turned and made his way again towards the granite ridge he just paralleled. This was the fourth mass grave he had found.
Moving north along the eastern base of the mountain Gary tried to put his anger and feelings aside, as his mind had to be perfectly in tune to his surroundings and not to what he had just experienced. The fog of death and war could take your mind away from the job at hand, which now was survival and retribution. Gary focused on finding a route over the ridge, after a half mile of impossibly steep rocky slopes; he found a path leading up.
Climbing to the top of the ridge was hard work, and Gary was hungry, thirsty and sweaty. Reaching the peak Gary sat down and took a much needed break. Dropping his pack and unzipping the jacket to release the built up heat, Gary drained half of his canteen in one long thirst quenching gulp. Water conservation wasn’t much of an issue here as there were natural springs throughout the mountains.
Gary had the binoculars out and was doing a rough scan of the valley in front and below him. The woods extended about three hundred yards away from the base of the mountain and stopped at a corn field. The corn field was in winter stubble and looked to be about two hundred yards wide. It was edged on the north/south by a paved road which ran through the valley. On the other side of the road and to Gary’s south was a well kept farm house. Gary noticed that the house was occupied as wisps of smoke were visible from the chimney.
It was decision time. Gary had to choose between eating one of his MRE’s or possibly finding a meal at the farm house. Gary’s stomach made the decision for him, as the possibility of a fresh cooked meal over-ruled the reality of a cold Meal Ready to Eat. The choice was made and now all he had to do was to find a way down off of the ridge. Looking at the ground below, Gary noticed numerous large boulders strewn throughout the forest floor, which would make for a secure area to find a little nook to curl up into and spend the night if needed. Large rocks and trees also meant a good place to be ambushed from, or a good place for an ambush. Looking south towards the farm house; Gary saw that the ridge just got steeper and less inviting; so he turned north. North was no stroll in the park as Gary had to walk almost a half mile to where the ridge gradually descended to the woods below. The base of the mountain with its boulders and large hardwood trees looked like a great spot for kids to play in, as the undergrowth was minimal from being eaten by the local deer population.
Weaving around the boulders presented no major problems, although not in a straight line, his route was direct none the less. When he figured that he was across from the house, Gary started out towards the fallow field. He didn’t go very far until he found himself on a well worn deer trail which he followed to the edge of the corn field. Sitting against a bare oak tree Gary glassed the farm and its surroundings. He observed a young boy playing with his dog in the front yard. There were no barricades or warning signs to indicate that this was an armed camp, or that strangers weren’t welcome. Since the passage of the World Patriot and Anti-Terrorist Project, any groups of armed civilians were systematically destroyed by the World Police Force. There were also no Bradley Fighting Vehicles or Humvee’s, which hopefully would mean that there were no UN or WPF troops.
Slinging the Garand over his shoulder, he stepped out onto the slightly sloping down-ward corn field and headed straight for the farm house. He hadn’t taken ten steps before being spotted by the German Shephard, who barked furiously. Nearing the road, the young boy stared at him and held his dog back. The Shepherd was well trained as he could have ripped himself away from the boy and attacked. Gary stopped short of the road and held out his empty hands.
“Hi, what do you want?” The boy was understandably cautious at the sight of an armed man.
“Just some conversation and maybe a little food. I haven’t spoken with anyone in a while. My name is Gary.”
The boy was looking Gary over to see if he should carry on the conversation or turn and run. “My name’s Charlie and this is my dog King.”
As Gary acknowledged Charlie and King, the boy’s father came into view. “Can I help you with something, mister?” Charlie’s father looked like throw-back to the 60’s. He was tall and thin with long gray hair tied in a pony-tail.
“Hi, I’m just passing through and saw your place. I thought I might ask you for a meal, if it’s no trouble. I’ll pay for it.” Gary had just told the man that he was outside the law, as all legal money was in the form of an electronic transfer.
The man walked up to Gary “You know those things are illegal” Pointing to the Garand and the exposed holstered handgun.
“Yeah, I know” Gary made no apologies for his weapons.
“It looks like you don’t think too much of their laws.”
Hell, anybody that’s against this establishment is alright with me! My name’s Mac…Mac Finney and yours?”
“Gary…Gary Martin.” The men shook hands in greeting. “It’s nice to meet you Mac.”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Gary. Sounds like you’re hungry.’ Gary nodded yes immediately. “Would you like to stay for dinner? Charlie trapped a turkey yesterday.” Charlie beamed as his Dad was very proud of his young hunter. “My wife can really cook a turkey. Stepping back slightly, Mac gave a cockeyed look. “When was the last time you were cleaned up?”
Gary didn’t realize that in the past three months, he hadn’t had a proper bath or a shave. “It’s been a while.” Gary looked at Mac and said “I guess I look pretty bad, huh?”
Mac politely nodded. “Yeah, you could say that.” Mac gave a genuinely toothy smile and instantly Gary had made a friend.
Charlie ran to the house with King following close behind “Mom! We’ve got a visitor…and he’s a fighter!”
As Gary and Mac walked toward the rear of the house, Gary stopped and listened to music that was filtering through the opened back door. “Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. I haven’t heard that in years.” Gary missed a lot of things about the ‘world’, especially music.
Charlie’s announcement of the visitor had brought two women out to the back porch. The first was Mac’s daughter who looked to be in her mid-twenties and the second was Mac’s wife, a trim attractive woman who looked to be in her early to mid fifties. “Hi, I’m Molly; and this is our daughter April. You can take your guns off and store them in here.” Molly said pointing to a closet off of the back porch.
Gary didn’t like to be completely unarmed. The last time that happened was when he lost his M1A; and his squad of men. He did not intend on having that happen again. ‘Molly, if you don’t mind, I’ve just come from some really hard times and would appreciate if I could at least have my weapons close by” Gary’s statement carried a level of truth that Molly accepted.
“Ok, but could you at least make them safe?”
“Sure thing, that’s not a problem.” Gary was very relieved
As Gary drew up to the rear door of the house Molly got a whiff of the pungent soldier. Scrunching her nose and touching him with just her finger-tips she said “Ok, let’s get you cleaned up before dinner. You can just leave those clothes here on the porch.” Turning to April “Honey, would you go get our guest a blanket, and start a hot bath for him, please?”
Gary spent the next half hour soaking in an antique claw-foot bath tub. The water was steamy hot and turned dusky brown from his imbedded grime. Gary drained the first tub then refilled it, washing until he was new baby clean. Folded neatly on a small antique stool, was a plain white cotton bath towel and his pistol. The handgun looked completely out of place in the white porcelain tiled room.
Taking the towel and wiping off the fogged up mirror, Gary saw himself clearly for the first time in months. The reflected image looked like someone’s fictional account of a turn of the century mountain man. His face was bone thin as he had lost a substantial amount of weight; the scraggly full faced beard was framed by his collar length pewter gray and brown hair. Gary had never been able to grow a full beard; it just wasn’t in the family genes.
Opening the bathroom door slightly “Molly, would it be alright if I used a pair of scissors?”
“Sure, are you going to cut your hair?” Molly spoke from the next room.
“Yeah, I look pretty rough.”
As Molly was getting the scissors, April volunteered to Gary “I’ll cut your hair, if you’d like.”
April brought a chair into the bathroom and opened the window to let some of the humid air out. Gary sat like an obedient school boy with a towel around his waist, while April covered his neck and shoulders with another soft bath towel. Brushing out the knots and kinks as gently as she could, she asked. “So, how much do you want me to cut off?”
“All of it…take it down to the scalp.”
“No way…won’t that look good on you.”
Gary looked at her in through the mirror and said slowly. “Ok…you do your thing alright? Just no Mohawks or anything weird.” He smiled apprehensively, but was most appreciative of the help.
“Don’t worry; I do all of our families hair cuts now…well, with the exception of Dad.” April said smiling back.
Using her fingers as a guide she reduced his graying mop to about an inch all around, half that on the sides. As she was working she asked “So, how long have you been….out there?”
Gary thought and replied “I guess it’s been over three years now…I’ve been in this area since the start of winter.”
“Are you by yourself? Are there any others?” April asked both questions before she gave Gary a chance to respond.
Gary paused at the questions. He didn’t know if April was fishing for information that could be used to track him down. “Why do you want to know that?”
“My Dad says that all of the fighters are probably dead now.” April paused then continued “He saw this coming a long time ago…right now we’re living a nightmare here. You can’t do anything without ‘their’ permission, you can’t buy anything without these stupid chips…and you can’t trust anyone.” She paused for a moment and added “People are starting to disappear…people who disagree with them.”
Gary read her statement and the tone of her voice perfectly “I’m alone…I’m the last one from our group left alive. I don’t know if there are any others in other areas…but I sure would like to meet up with some.” The statement hopefully might shed some light on if or where he could join up with other forces.
The amateur stylist and client were silent for a few minutes as they each thought about what to say next.
“Ouch!” Gary pulled his head back sharply as April accidentally snipped a miniscule portion of his ear.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that, are you Ok?!” April took a small piece of toilet paper and placed it on the top if his ear, stifling the small amount of blood flow.
Through the door Charlie heard Gary’s surprised statement “Hey Mister Gary, did April cut you? She cuts me all the time.”
“Charlie, be quiet.” April said as an older sister to her younger brother. The air of sophistication was let out of the family balloon.
Gary chuckled at Charlie and smiled at April in the mirror “Thanks for the warning Charlie, I’ll keep my eye on her from now on.”
April gave Gary a one eyed silent smirk in return. “Ok, almost finished” as she blew a small fragment of hair off the other ear, which made him twitch slightly. “What?”
“That tickled…” Gary said sheepishly as his face blushed slightly.
“Hmm, what about your beard? Do you want me to trim that?” April said as she brought the sharp pointed scissors near his face.
Gary stopped her short by lightly grasping her hand. “I can do that” pausing for a moment and looking at her well manicured hand “Soft hands…very nice.”
It was April’s turn to blush; she did so then pulled away. Stepping over to the tub and taking some things out of a small basket that held personal hygiene items. “Here, you can use my razor and shaving cream.”
Gary looked at the pink disposable razor and the pink labeled canned feminine shaving cream, and then smiled. “Thanks April.” It took Gary another twenty minutes to trim then shave his face. The floral smell of the feminine shaving cream brought back memories from a distant past and his wife.
Stepping out of the bathroom with just a blanket on felt uncomfortable, similar to the feeling he had from his Doctor’s exam room…nervous and naked. The smell of dinner was an aroma from heaven. Molly had baked fresh bread, roasted the turkey and mashed potatoes and corn that Mac had grown and canned last fall. Molly called from the kitchen “Gary, here are some clothes that might fit.” Gary went into the kitchen and was just awe struck at how nice and organized the place was. Molly continue as if this was a common every day occurrence. “Wow, you look a lot different cleaned up.”
“Thanks…April did a good job on my hair; it feels good having a haircut and shave.”
“Your clothes are washed and are in the dryer. April is going to take in the waist of your pants; it looks like you’ve lost some weight.” Molly said smiling at the new look of the wild man that came in from the woods.
“Yeah, I’ve lost a lot of weight. I think I’ve put three or four extra holes in my belt.” Gary smiled
Molly handed Gary a wicker basket with all of the items that were in his pants and jacket. He noticed that the grenades were on top. “I was afraid to touch those things.”
“They won’t go off by themselves; there’s a safety clip to prevent the pin from accidentally getting pulled.” Gary paused and with concern said “You are all taking a huge risk by showing me this hospitality, I really do appreciate it. Maybe one day when things get back to normal, I can repay the favor.” Gary wished that were true, but had really given up any hope of normalcy returning to what was once the United States of America...land of the free and home of the brave.
“Would you help me set the table? Mac and Charlie should be finished with putting the animals away any time now”
Gary and Molly were setting the table when Mac and Charlie came in. “Boy does that smell good! Gary, she doesn’t cook like this all the time, you’ll have to stop by more often.” All three chuckled. It felt as if they had known one another for many years and were getting together to talk about old times.
With the table set and everyone sitting down, no one really said much as the food was passed around. Charlie was dying to ask the questions that only a ten year old boy could ask. “Mr. Gary, are those hand grenades real?”
Gary’s mind and taste buds were in another world as the food brought back memories of large family gatherings with his own, looking over at Charlie, he grunted. “Uh huh.”
“Does that silver pistol really have a silencer on it?”
“Yes the silencer is built onto the barrel. It’s part of the pistol.” Gary figured he should answer as honestly as possible.
“Where did you get it?”
“I took it off of a Government assassin”
“Government assassin?” Mac interjected and didn’t seem too surprised at that announcement.
“Yeah, Government assassin. They have hit men and women. Or at least they did; now they just use the World Police to do their dirty work.
“Have you ever killed anyone?” Charlie shot a quick question out.
“Charlie! Stop with all of the questions and let Mr. Gary eat.” Mac and Molly both objected to Charlie’s questions about killing and guns.
Gary looked at Charlie and winked. The wink silently answered the young man’s question.
“So, are you married?” April asked pensively. The memories of past encounters with other men she had been attracted to quickly came to her. With his hair cut and clean shaven face, he had taken on a completely different look and it appealed to her. April tried but couldn’t take her eyes off of this unassuming and deadly warrior.
“I was once. My wife and daughter were killed about three and a half years ago. Cathi, my wife, would have really loved your house and farm. My daughter Ruthie would have spent a lot of time trying to catch and pet the chickens and goats. You would have liked my family.”
They all smiled as Gary was probably right, yet Mac and Molly didn’t want to go into any depth on that statement.
As Gary picked apart a turkey thigh, something fell out and landed on his plate with a very audible thunk, which everyone heard. Gary picked up the slightly deformed .22 bullet and looking at Charlie “So, Charlie, just how did you trap that turkey?” Gary smiled and continued “Head shots wont spoil as much meat, you can do head shots right?”
“We don’t have many bullets for the rifle, so I can’t really practice much, besides its old and not very accurate.” Charlie seemed slightly dejected and looked down as he spoke.
“Charlie, when was the last time you cleaned that rifle? Clean weapons are much more accurate than dirty ones, you know.” Turning to Mac “Mac would you mind if I gave Charlie some ammunition for that .22?”
“Would I? Do you know how expensive ammunition is; if you can even find it? They’ve made it illegal to hunt anything anymore with a gun.” Mac certainly didn’t like the laws he was forced to follow in his world.
“Pardon me for a moment, please” Gary got up and went to his back pack. Taking out a plastic container of high quality .22’s he returned and handed them to Charlie, whose eyes lit up like a Christmas morning surprise. “Here you go Charlie, now there’s no reason not to make better shots, ok? Be frugal with this alright? It might have to last you for a while”
“Gee thanks Mr. Gary!” Charlie beamed, as did the rest of the family.
“Gary, can I ask a personal question? If you don’t want to answer that’s OK.” April wanted to know more about Gary’s family.
Gary nodded OK. “Go ahead” He thought he knew the direction of her question.
April gathered up her nerve and asked again “So….how did your family get killed?”
There was a silence around the table as Gary could have politely chosen not to go with that question; he decided that with his new found friends the time might be right for him to talk it out. “You know, I’ve lived with this bottled up in me for a few years now.” Gary paused and then continued “It’s time I talked about it.” Taking a deep breath “We were just regular folks that lived a regular life in Baltimore. We owned a home and I had a good job. Well, I started seeing some things take place with the Government which I didn’t really care for.” Gary paused again trying to put the words in proper perspective. “I used to hunt some, but I really like to shoot guns. I had some rifles and a few pistols and shot with them a lot, targets and matches mostly. The rifle that is out on the porch is one of my favorites; it’s a M1 Garand that was made in 1944. Anyway, some of my friends used to talk about the laws that the Government was passing and how it looked like they were setting themselves up to start taking away everyone’s guns. My buddies used to talk about how they’d make a stand, so to speak. The term they threw around was ‘Molon Labe’, which meant, ‘Come and Take Them’. For the most part that was a lot of hot air; however I went the other way and put together a cache for mine, so that if this did take place we could head out to the country and pick them up when we needed it.”
“What’s a cache, Gary?” Charlie asked
“Charlie, it’s a place to hide stuff.” Mac who was listening intently responded.
“Anyway, when the Senate adopted the ‘Land Mine and Small Arms Treaty’ with the UN, I read what this Treaty actually said.” Gary paused momentarily then continued “It says that anyone that has small arms that are declared to be “illegal” must turn them in. The UN would decide which guns were legal or not, and there wasn’t any discussion on the matter. If you had an “illegal” weapon and did not turn them in that person would immediately be branded a “terrorist” and jail time or worse would result. They also adopted the World Patriot Anti-Terrorist Project. This legislation superseded the former “Patriot Act”, which basically kept the Patriot Act and added teeth to the Small Arms Treaty.” Gary paused again and then continued with a short history lesson “What this said was that police departments would be equipped with military weapons, for use on land, sea and air. So a declared terrorist could be taken out with bombs, missiles or machine guns. It was all nice and legal, too. So, I figured that my two favorite weapons would be declared illegal and I built two caches out of 6” PVC pipe and buried them. I put items in there that I thought might be useful if this actually did come to pass. I never in a million years thought that this would take place in America.”
“Like what kind of things?” Charlie hung onto Gary’s every word.
“Well, I had one rifle and one pistol in each which I wrapped and coated in grease to prevent rust. I also included about four hundred rounds for each with clips and magazines. I also put some other types of ammo in that might be useful; like the .22’s that I just gave you. I had some basic cleaning supplies, maps, gold and silver, a few MRE’s, spare clothes…survival kind of stuff. I then took each one out and buried them in separate locations which only I knew.” Gary paused and seeing that the question Charlie had asked was answered, he looked at April and continued. “So back to your question, April. Here is what happened…”
It was his mid-week day off which allowed both Gary and Cathi to sleep in a little longer than normal.
“Daddy! Daddy!” Ruthie was standing next to her Daddy and was shaking him trying her best to get him up.
“Ruthie, what are you doing up so early?” Gary looked at the alarm clock, it was six thirty five A.M.
“Daddy there’s some policeman at the door, and they want you to get up and come downstairs.” Ruthie knew who policemen were, as her parents had taught her that policemen were there to protect her and help her if she needed it.
“Policemen?” Gary was stunned that someone would come by so early in the morning. He thought that maybe somebody had stolen his car or somebody was hurt in an accident. As Gary got out of bed, the officers had come inside the house and were standing at the bedroom door. “What’s up officer? Why are you in my house?”
“Mr. Martin, I need for you to get dressed and come with me.” The stocky officer with the clean shaven head said authoritatively.
“What’s this about?” Gary realized that this wasn’t a social call and was getting angry at the early intrusion.
“What is this about? It’s about the two illegal rifles that we show you have not turned in.” The policeman’s eyes glanced around the room as his hand hovered just inches above his holstered sidearm. Behind the officer in the doorway was another officer, this one female.
“I called you guys a month ago that we had a break-in and they were stolen. I don’t have them.” Gary maintained his lie as he sat up and started to get dressed.
“Well, you see Mr. Martin; we’ve had about two thousand calls in the past month alone about gun thefts. Don’t you find it amazing that stolen weapon crimes would be up over one thousand percent in the past month? So here is the deal, give up the weapons that match the serial numbers we have and you’ll get off with a just a fine. If you don’t produce the guns, right now, you’ll go down-town with us and we’ll search your house. If we find them or anything that indicates you might have hidden them, then it’s off to jail.” The officer glared at Gary.
“I told you, I don’t have them.”
Cathi was starting to awaken from a deep sleep. Five months pregnant and being the stay at home Mom for the hyperactive four year old girl, made uninterrupted sleep a valuable commodity. “What’s going on?” She asked groggily “Who are these people, and who let you in?” Cathi was now wide awake and becoming very agitated.
“Your daughter let us in, and your husband is going to jail if he doesn’t produce those guns. Why don’t you tell us where he hid the guns?”
“Hey do you have a warrant? If not then get the HELL OUT OF MY HOUSE!” Cathi screamed.
The officer took a quick step and slammed Gary against the closet door knocking it out of the track. At the same time he twisted Gary’s arms behind his back and took a pair of pre-looped nylon hand-cuffs; tightened them on Gary’s wrist very hard constricting the blood flow. Taking Gary’s arms and using them as leverage while lifting him was very painful, which the officer did as he physically shoved him down the steps.
“Let my husband go, you ASSHOLES!” Cathi was livid and Ruthie was crying hysterically.
The female officer bolted into the bedroom. With her left hand she pointed at Cathi and her right hand poised over her sidearm. “YOU…Shut the FUCK UP! If you don’t we’ll take you in too and put your daughter with Children’s Services.”
As the officer and Gary went through the front door and to the awaiting cruiser, Gary saw four other officers with clip boards, cameras and hand tools that they were going to use to rip apart and search his house. The officer pushed Gary’s head down and shoved him into the cruiser and started to drive off, as he did Gary saw his neighbor look out his front window. Gary hoped that Stan wouldn’t do anything dumb with the police.
Stan Jenkins was a good neighbor and friend to the Martin’s. Gary and Stan were also shooting buddies. As he looked out the window and saw the cruisers and well armed officers, something inside Stan said “You’re next, stand and fight.” Stan went to his closet and loaded his AR-15 assault rifle. Opening the front door and taking aim he opened fire on the officers that were standing around waiting to search Gary’s house. Four officers were hit with two being killed outright.
The wounded officers returned fire from the other side of their vehicles and called for back-up.
Martin State Airport was only five air miles from the Jenkins home. The large airfield had on the north end the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Tactical Fighter Wing, which consisted of A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack jets. The east end based the Maryland State Police Helicopter Squadron, which was being renamed and reclassified as the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Armed Support Squadron. The reclassified squadron operated Eurocopter Dauphin helicopters which were recently fitted with the Hydra Rocket System. The Hydra consisted of two seven tube launchers containing fourteen rockets, each projectile carrying a ten pound high explosive warhead capable of destroying any civilian vehicle or home.
Captain Jack Holmes and Lieutenant Jeff Holliday were both on duty. Neither had any hands on time with the Hydra System, just computer simulation. They were airborne quickly and were already responding to a call for an ‘officer down’ in Baltimore City. This call, like so many others recently came about from citizens shooting back at the police who were trying to confiscate weapons. They received another call that officers were down and under fire, which was near their current position so they turned to assist the closer of the two calls.
“Officers down, officers down! We need back-up immediately. We are under heavy fire from a white male firing an assault rife. Two officers are dead and two are wounded.” The frantic call went out over the air, giving the address of the attack, which was unnecessary as the officers own microphone transmitted an imbedded GPS signal to pin point their exact location.
“Roger that, this is Support Air in transit to your location.” Lt Holliday armed the Hydra System by flipping a three position switch. In the excitement he mistakenly thought he selected the single-fire mode, he actually selected the ripple-fire mode. The Dauphin arrived and settled into a hover about two hundred yards from the townhouses. The pilot was on the alert for any weapons fire directed at the helo. With the Dauphin settled into its hover, Lt Holliday fired the Hydra. In a matter of seconds all fourteen high explosive rockets blasted out of the round launch tubes, spreading to cover an area approximately one hundred feet wide at impact. The explosions shredded the Martin family and their brick and wood home, along with the Jenkins family and their home. What took years to accomplish through hard work and love was eradicated in a few seconds.
The police released Gary a few days later after interrogating him, which consisted of electric stun guns, water, food and sleep deprivation. In the blast, they had destroyed any evidence of illegal activity, along with a couple of police officers who were starting their inventoried destruction of the Martin home. However, they just didn’t let him walk out of the station. In their anger they drugged him, stripped him and trussed him with nylon handcuffs, and then unceremoniously dumped him in the most crime ridden and murder filled section of Baltimore City.
After the attack the local paper reported that the officers which flew the attack helicopter were given citations for their valiant work in eliminating terrorists.
The dinner table was stone cold silent. Gary looked at each of his friends and said “I’m sorry to have ruined your dinner, but you did ask.”