Authors: James Wesley Rawles
Tags: #Thrillers, #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #General
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All rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication in whole or in part or dissemination of this edition by any means (including but not limited to photocopying, electronic bulletin boards, and the Internet) will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
This is a work of fiction. All of the events described are imaginary. Most of the characters in this novel are fictional. A few real-life individuals gave permission for their names to be mentioned. Aside from these individuals, any resemblance to living people is purely coincidental.
The information contained in this novel is intended for educational purposes only, to add realism to a work of fiction.
The case citations contained within this novel do not constitute legal advice. Consult a jural society or lawyer if you have legal questions. The medical details contained within this novel do not constitute medical advice. Consult a doctor or herbalist if you have medical questions. The purpose of this novel is to entertain and to educate. The author and Atria Books / Simon & Schuster shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any citizen, person, or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained in this novel.
Baptist minister and part-time metal detectorist, near Williams, Arizona
grasslands biologist and rabbit breeder, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
first lieutenant, USAF, missileer at Malmstrom AFB, Montana
fertilizer and pesticide salesman, Radcliff, Kentucky
retired property manager and soils analyst, Bradfordsville, Kentucky
trauma nurse from Waterville, Vermont
wife of Brent Danley
father of Rebecca (Emerson) Fielding
a Nashville attorney and friend of Ben Fielding
attorney in Muddy Pond, Tennessee
son of Ben and Rebecca Fielding; thirteen years old at the onset of the Crunch
Rebecca (Emerson) Fielding—
wife of Ben Fielding
industrial engineer from Chicago; member of Todd Gray’s Idaho survivalist retreat group
leader of the criminal gang La Fuerza
leader of a group retreat near Bovill, Idaho
owner of Chet’s Crawlers and Haulers, a four-wheel drive vehicle repair and modification specialist garage in Chicago, Illinois
deputy sheriff in Marion County, Kentucky
member of the Hardin, Kentucky, board of supervisors
Tom “T.K.” Kennedy—
Todd Gray’s dormitory roommate and cofounder of The Group
Captain Andrew “Andy” Laine—
Army Ordnance Corps officer
Lisbeth “Beth” Laine—
wife of Lars Laine
daughter of Lars and Lisbeth; six years old at the onset of the Crunch; nicknamed “Anelli”
Kaylee (Schmidt) Laine—
wife of Andy Laine
Major Lars Laine—
disabled U.S. Army veteran
HVAC technician from Scottsbluff, Nebraska
off-road vehicle mechanic, Chicago, Illinois; member of Todd Gray’s Idaho survivalist retreat group
wife of Ken Layton; member of Todd Gray’s Idaho survivalist retreat group
computer programmer living near Bovill, Idaho; member of Todd Gray’s Idaho survivalist retreat group
L. Roy Martin—
owner of the Bloomfield Refinery; nicknamed “El Rey” by his Spanish-speaking employees
oilfield worker and U.S. Army veteran
rancher near Raynesford, Montana; father of Kelly (Monroe) Watanabe
wife of Jim Monroe; mother of Kelly (Monroe) Watanabe
rancher in Butte County, South Dakota
wife of Carl Norwood
son of Carl and Cordelia Norwood; sixteen years old at the onset of the Crunch
the Old Man—
nickname of the anonymous leader of a Kentucky-based resistance reconnaissance unit
Brigadier General Edward Olds—
Mechanized Infantry brigade commander, Fort Knox, Kentucky
ranch hand, Raynesford, Montana; sixteen years old at the onset of the Crunch
resistance infantryman from Westmoreland, Tennessee
farmer in West Branch, Iowa
wife of Durward Perkins
farmer near Morgan City, Utah
wife of Larry Prine
general store owner and widow of Jerome Randall
son of Sheila Randall; ten years old at the onset of the Crunch
Major General Clayton Uhlich—
post commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky
grandmother (“Grandmère”) of Sheila Randall and great-grandmother of Tyree Randall; eighty-five years old at the onset of the Crunch
senior airman (E-4), Missile Maintenance NCO, Malmstrom AFB, Montana
Kelly (Monroe) Watanabe—
wife of Joshua Watanabe
Brigadier General Anthony Woolson—
base commander, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana
Author’s introductory note:
Unlike most novel sequels, the story line of
is contemporaneous with the events described in my previously published novels,
. Thus, you need not read them first (or subsequently), but you’ll likely find them entertaining. They will also fill in the backstories for several characters.
“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law,
Adrian Evans had asked Ben to meet him at the bar after work. This was a meeting that wasn’t in Ben’s comfort zone. Ben Fielding only rarely set foot in a bar, and the only drinking that he did was tiny little communion cups of wine. But since he was about to move his family and he probably wouldn’t see Adrian again for many months, he reluctantly agreed.
Ben had just seen Adrian three days before, at a Sunday afternoon farewell barbeque. Nearly everyone from the law firm, and a couple of Ben and Rebecca’s neighbors, came over for the party. Because Ben was moving his family to the country, the get-together had been organized by Ben’s secretary as a theme party. Many of the guests wore colorful cowboy shirts or coveralls and straw hats. Most of the gifts were back-to-the-land tools. These included a push cultivator, various hand tools, a scythe, several shovels, and a hay fork. The latter, as everyone insisted, became
a prop for Ben to hold for clichéd portraits of Ben and Rebecca standing together, looking like the stern-faced couple in the Grant Wood painting
When Ben Fielding arrived at the Full Moon Saloon, he found that Adrian was already there, nursing a gin and tonic. They sat briefly at the bar while Ben ordered a glass of Sprite. Then they moved to a booth to talk. Adrian carried over a paper bag that was gathered at the top. It looked like it held a bottle of liquor for a goodbye gift. Ben was hoping that he wouldn’t have to come up with a “Thanks but no thanks” speech, to explain again that he was a nondrinker.
Their conversation started out essentially as a repeat of what they’d talked about at the farewell barbeque. Adrian wished Ben the best for his move to the largely Mennonite community of Muddy Pond. “I’m really jealous of you, Ben,” he said. “I’d love to move out to the country, and have a place to shoot my guns without having to pay to go to a range.”
Then their conversation moved on to expectations of what things would be like at the law firm after Ben left, and a bit about Adrian’s failed marriage.
Adrian noticed Ben glancing at the paper bag on the table and said, “After the party last weekend, I found a couple of more tools that I’d like to give you. Sorry that I didn’t wrap them or anything.”
He slid the bag over to Ben. Opening it, Ben found that it held a hammer and screwdriver.
Adrian explained, “I hope you like these. The screwdriver is pretty cool. It’s an original Winchester brand, from back when they had a chain of hardware stores, in the 1920s and 1930s. The Winchester-marked tools and signage are quite collectible, especially with gun enthusiasts looking to branch out. I already put together a full set of their screwdrivers for my collection, but this one was a duplicate, so it’s yours.”
“Thanks, so much. This is great.”
Adrian pointed to the well-worn hammer and said, “Now, that belonged to my grandfather. It was supposedly handmade by a blacksmith that he knew in Hartsville. The handle is hickory, and is just as stout today as the day it was made back in the 1930s.”
Ben hefted the short-handled hammer, which had a head that must have weighed a pound and a half. He said again, “Thanks, Adrian. You’ve been very generous. I appreciate the socket set and the gardening tools that you gave us at the party, too. They’ll all come in handy.”
Their conversation wandered into politics, then sports, and finally back to Adrian’s marriage. At just after 10 p.m., the bar’s cocktail waitress walked by and asked, “Would y’all like another?”