Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse

BOOK: Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse
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Last Stand:

Surviving America’s Collapse

 

Copyright © 2014 William H. Weber

Cover design by
Keri Knutson

Edited by
RJ Locksley

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

"With an EMP, almost everything powered by electricity would effectively be wiped out
—not physically, but practically. Such things would simply cease to work…”

--Edwin J. Feulner Ph.D
.


FEULNER: Countering an EMP attack’

The
Washington Times

 

“This could be the kind of catastrophe that ends civilization—and that’s not an exaggeration.”

 

--Newt Gingrich

Former Republican House speaker

 

"Although many in Congress and the White House tend to ignore the EMP threat, America’s potential adversaries will not."

 

--Jenna Baker McNeill

Richard Weitz Ph.D.

‘Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

Attack: A Preventable

Homeland Security Catastrophe’

The Heritage Foundation

For my wife. You’re the rock that binds my faith.

From the Author:

 

Although the story you are about to read is a work of fiction, the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) it depicts and its destructive effects on our country’s electrical systems are a real and present danger. Events following Hurricane Katrina gave us a glimpse into the terrifying possibilities if we suddenly lost the modern conveniences we’ve come to depend on. Needless to say, the consequences of such an attack would be devastating. Millions would die from starvation, lack of proper medicine, exposure and roving gangs of looters. In the end, the domino effect could lead to the collapse of the American economy and usher in a new Dark Age.

John Mack, a prepper and former
soldier, struggles to save his family and community after an EMP takes out the country’s electrical grid. With most electronics, communications and transportation destroyed in a matter of seconds, the nation quickly collapses into anarchy.

 

For John and the other residents of Willow Creek Drive, the breakdown of social order throws them back to the 1800s. As the community tries to come together, a powerful outside force appears that threatens their survival. Will John’s years of military and prepping experience be enough to keep them safe?

 

Mixing tons of useful prepping tips into an action-packed story,
Last Stand: Surviving America’s Collapse
is a must-read for any fans of survival fiction.

Chapter 1

J
ohn Mack stopped his F150 pickup at the red light and switched the cell phone to his other ear.

“What time do you expect the open house to end?”
he asked his wife Diane. She was a real estate agent with Century 21. Ever since the housing market had started to bounce back, sales as well as commissions had been steadily increasing. Their family had been hit hard during the recent recession and it was a real sore point between them. Not that he had any right criticizing her choice of profession; after all, he was a general contractor. Right or wrong though, having all their financial eggs in one basket was a recipe for disaster.

“I should be home around six
,” Diane told him. She sounded annoyed and a little out of breath, like she was at her desk, bending over to put her heels on. Probably the same ones she said looked great, but made her soak in hot water for hours afterward.

The light turned green and John accelerated through the intersection. “
Don’t forget, it’s your choice of movie tonight, but no romance. One more chick flick and the kids’ll threaten to move out and I might join them.”

“Oh, wouldn’t that be nice.”

The two of them laughed.

“See you at home, honey,” she said. “Love you.”

 

A few minutes later John pulled into the driveway of their
house. Two stories, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Looked a lot like most of the other houses on Willow Creek Drive, except John would be willing to bet that his was different. Last summer he’d dug down under the crawlspace in his basement and installed a concrete bunker. Most of the work had been done slowly and secretly and the job had taken months. Not even their kids, twelve-year-old Gregory or fourteen-year-old Emma, were allowed to tell any of their friends. Since then John had outfitted the bunker with an air and water filtration system and a stockpile of dried goods designed to last them about a month. John had then put up a false wall to hide the pod’s location in case the house was attacked or overrun.

He’d even made bug-out bags for each member of the family, packed with the essentials they would need in case they had to flee their home.

As
far as natural disasters went, the streets of Sequoyah Hills, Tennessee, a tree-lined suburb west of Knoxville, were about as safe as they came. Sure, once in a while a thin coating of snow might turn to ice come January or February, but most everyone knew to stay indoors and wait till the ice melted away.

But i
f John’s time with the military and the wide spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions he’d run in Iraq, Rwanda and Bosnia had taught him anything, it was that you could never be too well prepared.

I
n the event of a short-term disaster, he could keep his family safe and sound. The bunker underneath his basement, his stockpile of supplies and the alternate bug-out location in the Appalachian Mountains north of Knoxville had each set him back several thousand dollars, but it was a price well worth paying.

N
ot all of John’s neighbors saw things the same way. When Sequoyah Hills had been put on a water-boiling advisory last year, he was the only one who hadn’t rushed to clear the grocery store shelves. Keeping your preps a secret, that was John’s number one rule, but he didn’t mind telling Al Thomson, his next-door neighbor, that he liked to keep a couple things on hand just in case.

“You’re not one of those
guys, are you?” Al had asked him back then.

“One of what?
” John had replied, not entirely sure where his ageing neighbor’s question was headed.

“You know. One of those people obsessed with the end of the world
. Always talking about slugging out.”

John’s eyes narrowed in confusion.
“I think you mean bugging out?”

“Yeah, that’s
right.” Al’s smile faded when he saw John wasn’t laughing.


Well, let’s just say there’s nothing wrong with being ready for a worst-case scenario, Al.”

“No
, no argument from me on that,” Al had said, fumbling with the cell phone in his pocket. “Just keep in mind, whenever something bad happens, it’s never more than a day or two before everything’s back online, right? Police, fire department. We pay taxes for that stuff, you know.”

C
onversations with Al never seemed to go anywhere. Wasn’t that Al was a bad guy. Quite the opposite. But John had run into similar disconnects any time people asked about his time in Iraq or Africa. Deep down, they didn’t really want to hear the truth. They wanted the sanitized, fairytale version they’d watched on CNN. Bloodless combat. Precision-guided weapons.

Watching
a Bradley roll off a shoddy bridge and into the Saddam Canal in Iraq, killing all on board, or the mountain of bones that lay as monuments to the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians in Rwanda—those were the ugly realities that made guys like Al squirm. And as much as John couldn’t relate to living in ignorant bliss, before joining the army, he’d been one of them.

That exchange with Al had taken place around this time last year and since then the two hadn’t shared more than
polite neighborly pleasantries.

Now in his driveway,
John killed the engine on his Ford F150, listening to the sound of the engine ticking down. Next door, Al was watering his lawn and whistling.

John got out and waved. Al nodded, bobbing to the song he had playing on the radio in his garage. The bed of roses under his bay window were in full bloom. Al and his wife
didn’t have kids. In some ways that lawn and the greenery Al took such pains in caring for were like the children he’d never had. That was Diane’s theory at least, and she was probably right.

“Those roses are
coming along, Al.”

S
heer unadulterated joy grew on Al’s face. He dropped the hose and pulled a pair of gardening shears from his back pocket. Al cupped one of the roses and snipped it about midway. He came and offered it to John.


For Diane,” Al said. “She’ll love it.”

“I couldn’t.”

“No, I insist.” Al gave John a devilish wink and pushed the rose into his hand. “It’s important to keep the romance strong, John. Us men have a habit of getting complacent, if you know what I mean.”

John grinned and took the rose. “You do have a point.”

“Oh, I almost forgot. Tell Diane to give Missy a call when she gets home. The annual block party is tomorrow and the wife wants to finalize who’s bringing what.”

The block party had become something of a tradition. Neighbors, new and old, would gather the first week of June
in the park at the end of Willow Creek Drive. Each family was asked to bring a salad, main dish or dessert. The men organized games for the kids to play. It was a sweet way for the neighborhood to come together once a year. Build a sense of community. John had lived in suburbs outside New York City where you never knew the names of the people around you. Sequoyah Hills was different and John never stopped appreciating that fact.

“Okay, Al, I’ll tell Diane to give Missy a call.” John lifted the rose. “And thanks again.”

Al nodded. “Don’t mention it.”

Chapter 2

A
fter entering the house, John searched out a vase for the rose. The kids would be home in a few hours and the tranquility he relished during the day would evaporate like early-morning lake mist. Gregory and Emma would tell him stories about their day and all the crazy things that had happened to them. John made sure to take an active role in his children’s lives. Already they were entering that challenging teenaged phase when they weren’t as enthusiastic about sharing. He’d learned to talk to them about their day and ask questions in a way that didn’t seem judgmental.

Greeting them after school was one of the benefits of being self-employed. He’d built his home office in the basement and
soundproofed it using rockwool insulation. John worked mostly with contracts involving renovations. Sometimes that meant showing up on site to ensure the work was being done properly. It also meant a lot of paperwork and phone calls with suppliers, subcontractors and engineers.

Not long ago, h
e’d begun the largest project of his career. A rich homeowner in Kingston Pike had hired him to oversee a million-dollar renovation on his two-story colonial-style mansion. The truth was, the guy would probably have been better off tearing the house down and starting fresh, but John could tell in that first meeting that this wasn’t about saving money. The man had made an emotional decision. He loved his home, but wanted the inside brought into the twenty-first century. Voice-controlled lighting. Touchscreens in every room. A fully integrated security system. Stress sensors in the floors designed to detect when someone was entering a room.

When the subcontractors John hired
had done their work, the house would practically become a sentient being… so long as the electricity was running. John had spent considerable time trying to convince the owner to incorporate some other, lower-tech, security measures just in case inclement weather or some other unforeseen event cut the power. Of course, it wasn’t a huge shock that the home owner had turned him down. After all, this was the digital age, wasn’t? Like Al had said, what could go wrong that wouldn’t be fixed by city workers within forty-eight hours?

John was in the middle of faxing the latest drafts he’d received from the architect when the kids arrive
d home. The front door slammed shut followed by a pair of schoolbags being dropped.

Another two weeks and both Gregory and
Emma would be off school for the summer, a time for family trips to the cabin John was eagerly looking forward to. Up until now Emma had been reluctant to take up shooting, even with the Walther P22 he’d bought her this past Christmas as a starter pistol. Wasn’t her thing, she’d said, and he respected that. It didn’t seem to matter that the skills he was preparing to teach her now might save her life someday.

He could hear the kids
running around upstairs raising a ruckus and John marched up the basement steps two at a time to find out what all the fuss was about. He reached the main floor right as Gregory ran past him, followed closely by Emma.

“You better not,” she was shouting. “I swear to God, you better not.”

“Hey,” John said sternly. “I don’t wanna hear anyone swearing to God.”

Both of the kids stopped, out of breath. Gregory
was wearing the kind of sly smile common to little brothers around the world. It was clear he’d been teasing his sister again. Both of them were out of breath. Emma was visibly upset.

“Now does someone wanna explain what this is all about or do I send you both to your rooms
?”

Emma
glared at Gregory. “He’s telling lies and I want him to stop.”

Indignation from Gregory. “
I’m not lying, Dad.”

“I don’t even know what you said.”

“Emma has a boyfriend,” Gregory spat out as fast as he could.

“That’s not true,” she screamed. “See, I told you he was lying.”

John swallowed hard. His daughter had recently entered that age that most fathers hated. At fourteen she was starting to feel as though she was becoming a woman, but without any of the accompanying maturity or wisdom that went along with making adult decisions.

On the horizon lay y
oung men ringing the bell and asking if they could take Emma on a date. Nowadays most of that was done in secret. Wasn’t like the old days when you actually sought the parents’ permission. But John tried to keep a healthy dialogue with his kids, if for no other reason than so they didn’t feel they needed to hide anything from him. It set him apart from other dads, but he always felt it was better to know before things got out of hand.

“Well, it’s normal that boys’ll start to notice you,” John said, feeling a bit awkward.
Emma’s cheeks began glowing red. Gregory buried his face in his hands and giggled.

“You’re not helping,
bud,” John told his son. “Why don’t you make yourself useful and start peeling the potatoes we’re gonna have for dinner tonight.”

Gregory turned to do as he was told.

“Does he have a name?” John asked Emma.

“Com
e on, Dad.”

“OK,
OK. All I’m gonna say is I trust you’ll bring him over soon so I can meet him.”

She nodded
reluctantly. He pulled her into a hug, aware of how quickly his kids were growing up. It had been a while since they’d hit a major milestone. Losing baby teeth, learning to ride a bike. Each of those had come and gone and now here was one more reminder that time could never be slowed or turned back. If anything, it seemed to fly by at ever-increasing speeds.

 

Emma went up to her room to listen to music and cool down while John made his way to the garage. In addition to the bunker, he’d also invested in a black 1978 Chevy Blazer, 6.2l diesel engine, with a Westin HDX stainless-steel grille guard.

Older cars and trucks were easier to maintain and find parts for in a SHTF scenario.
He liked his Blazer so much he’d even named her Betsy. Whenever a call came and John was in the garage, Diane would tell them he was out with his mistress.

But all kidding aside, Betsy was John’s main bug-out vehicle (BOV) and he’d designed her for stealth and safety. These days many in the prepper community opted for the intimidation factor: camo paint jobs, armor-plating, gun ports. All that was fine and dandy, but when and if the stuff ever hit the fan, keeping a low profile would be the key to survival. That was one of the benefits of the cabin they had up in northern Tennessee. Sequestered away from any of the main highways and emergency escape routes, it had enough stored food, fuel and water to last his family close to a year. He’d also decided long ago not to leave any of his vast array of weapons there since it might encourage theft. The rest of his supplies were camouflaged well enough behind false walls and holes he’d dug around the property.

 

John was wiping down Betsy’s hood with Turtle Wax when the front door opened. Diane was home.

He found her in the living room, removing her heels.
Snatching the rose from the vase in the kitchen, he made his way over to her. “Rough day?” he asked.

She started to sigh, then giggled when she saw the rose in his hand. “You
did something bad, didn’t you?”

John laughed. “What do you mean?”

“Wife shows up and husband has a rose. It’s on every sitcom.”

“This one’s for real. Compliments of Al next door.”

She took the rose and smelled it, eyeing John suspiciously.

He bent down and helped her with her shoes. Diane’s nose tweaked
, but it wasn’t the rose this time. “I smell potatoes.”

John smiled. “Gregory was up to his usual tricks, so I put him to work.”

“Oh, you smart man.”

He was heading for the kitchen when he asked
, “So, you settle on a movie for tonight?”

Diane leaned back in his favorite chair, a leather
recliner, the armrests worn from years of use. “I was thinking of
The Hunger Games
.”

John turned and raised an eyebrow.

“I thought you’d enjoy it. It’s one of those dystopian things where a bunch of kids have to fight one another.”

“Yeah, I thin
k part of it played out in the living room a few hours ago.”

Diane giggled. “T
he kids have already seen it, I know.”

“I’m sure they have, but that wasn’t why I was giving you the look.”

“Oh, the look. You wanna see something else?”

“Isn’t
The Hunger Games
a love story?”

Diane smiled
, dimples forming in her cheeks. “That mean you and the kids are moving out?”

 

Later that night, after dinner and the movie, John and Diane were in their bedroom. John was removing his shirt when he glanced in the mirror and caught sight of the scars that covered his torso. That you’d carry the marks of battle with you for the rest of your life was something they never told you during enlistment. But what they really neglected to mention was that the worst wounds would be the ones you couldn’t see.

Diane came up from behind and wrapped her arms around him.
Her right hand caressed the lump of discolored flesh on his abdomen. That was where the flaming shrapnel from the frag had torn into him all those years ago.

“I think
Emma has a boyfriend,” he said, trying to convince her he wasn’t thinking about old battles.

A smile grew on her face. Her eyes were twinkling. “It was bound to happen.”

“She’s only fourteen,” John said, his heart beating a little faster. His fists clenched.


We weren’t much older.”

The two of them had been high
-school sweethearts and hadn’t done much more than sneak a few kisses before they were married. But times had changed since then. John had read about kids in some of the bigger cities having sex in middle school. The thought made him sick.

“What did
Emma tell you about him?”

“She denied it.”

Diane slapped his shoulder playfully. “Well, there you go. And you say I get all worked up over nothing.” Her hands went to his shoulders, where she began massaging a knot of hard muscle. “You can’t protect them forever, John. Eventually, they’ll need to fly on their own.”

“Eventually,” he whispered. “But not just yet.”

BOOK: Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse
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