Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse (16 page)

BOOK: Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse
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Chapter 39


I
want to stress this arrangement is only temporary,” John told both families in the cramped confines of the kitchen. “I’ve discussed it with Diane and neither of us were happy to find our bug-out location occupied. We’ve also had a conversation with Emma who understands now the gravity of what she’s done. There’s still a lot to do around the cabin to prepare defenses and sustenance. Each and every one of you will need to pull your own weight; I expect no less from the Applebys than I do from my family. Rationed food supplies are only half the challenge with so many living under one roof. The cabin was designed for the four of us. Now we have double that number. That means three bedrooms for eight people.


Diane and I will take the master bedroom. Tim and Kay can have Emma’s room. Brandon and Gregory will share the last room. Emma and Natalie will sleep on the pull-out couch in the living room.”

Emma
sighed heavily, but John didn’t have an ounce of pity for her. She was the reason for the cramped space they were facing. She was lucky John didn’t make her sleep in the truck. She would also be given extra chores. Within a week or two she would feel the full impact of her indiscretion.

Diane had warned him not to go too hard on her
. He’d been tempted to bring out the strap his father had used on him. Pre-collapse that sort of thing would have been looked down upon, but John suspected as society slowly clawed its way out of danger, corporal punishment would become the norm once again. In effect, they were witnessing a return to the homesteading days of the nineteenth century. And along with the homesteading came the Wild West mentality that often led to innocent people getting killed. Preventing that was first on John’s list. The cabin needed to withstand a direct assault and have contingency plans in the worst-case scenario.

From here John outlined his
ideas for defending the cabin. A hundred-meter gravel path led from the cabin to the country road. There was a slight incline leading to the house. The forest had also been cleared for thirty yards around the cabin in all directions. That meant they had a decent field of fire from every angle.

The first layer of defense would be concealment. Marauders could
n’t attack a place they didn’t know existed. John had made the turnoff to the cabin purposely narrow for this very reason. With John’s direction, the four kids gathered dead leaves and fallen branches and used that to litter the turnoff. The contrast between the color of the gravel path and the surrounding vegetation would be a dead giveaway. It was important that a group moving past, particularly in vehicles, wouldn’t notice the opening as easily.

Afterward
they used spades to dig out a series of small holes. With hand saws they cut down a few one-and two-year-old trees and fit them into the holes, filling in the empty space with gravel. The idea was to maintain the illusion that the forest continued on unbroken.

While the kids work
ed on concealment, John and Tim tackled the next layer of defense, preventing vehicles from driving up to the cabin. That part was simple enough. They used John’s gas-powered chainsaw to fell a tree. They selected a spot fifty yards up the road where the ground sloped. That way the tree would fall across the road as they intended.

A nearly invisible access path through the forest, wide enough for a single vehicle at a time, would lead around the tree.

The idea, however, wasn’t to prevent an assault. History and common sense had already shown that a determined enemy would come regardless of the obstacles in his way. The secret, which had worked quite well back at his home on Willow Creek, was to control where the enemy approached from. If an oncoming force was funneled into a narrow kill zone, they wouldn’t stand a chance against high-powered rifles. Unlike in the movies, high-caliber bullets tended to pass through multiple unarmored bodies, a truth the machine-gunners in the trenches of World War I had learned to devastating effect.

Attackers on foot would try
to approach the cabin from the cover of the tree line and this was an advantage John and Tim needed to deny them. Without miles of razor wire, the only other solution was to lay multiple man traps along the edge of the path. These would consist of nail boards and sharpened stakes concealed by brush. Included in the booby traps were shotgun-shell tripwires. The spray of buck shot would certainly mangle a man’s legs, but more importantly, it would send a message that veering off the path was very bad for your health. Finally, the shotgun tripwires would help alert those in the cabin that someone was coming.

John had bought a dozen of them online before the collapse
that he stored at the cabin. They were a simple, yet ingenious little device. A mounting plate with a spring-loaded firing pin. Once the wire was tripped, it pulled on a trigger which fired the shell.

After
that was done, John and Tim set up prepared firing positions by hand-drilling gun ports in the cabin’s walls. Afterward, they would begin filling sandbags and stacking them around the opening. An average-sized, densely packed sandbag when stacked next to the thick beams of the cabin walls could stop anything short of a .50 cal.

Meanwhile, Diane and Kay busied themselves with planting the garden out back and tending to the greenhouse. They’d already decided to use the greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers, peas,
and green beans. This would give them a nice range of vitamins and minerals as well as a number of good hearty dishes. Some preppers had a tendency to stick to practical foods which could be easily stored without considering something as basic as taste. Eating the same tasteless slop every day might look good on paper, but living it was another matter entirely. The other often overlooked consideration was a balanced meal with the right vitamins. A diet of homemade bread and meat tended to overlook the human body’s need for vitamin C. The vegetables in the greenhouse would help to solve many of those problems.

In the garden outside, Diane and Kay would plant
perennials in much the same fashion they’d done on Willow Creek. John’s mother always said: If something worked well, why mess with it?

The seeds themselves had been stored in labeled pouches inside glass jars and would last three years. Of course, additional seeds could always be cultivated from the existing crop which meant, as long as they weren’t driven off their land, they could maintain a full garden indefinitely.

Everyone understood the need to hurry. The streams of refugees John and his family had seen along the interstate only served to drive the point home further. In spite their best efforts, someone would eventually find their bug-out location. It was important that when that time came, John and the others were ready for them.

Chapter 40

A
fter two solid fifteen-hour days spent erecting the cabin’s defenses, John’s attention turned to firearms training. The Applebys hadn’t been around when John had taken the residents of Willow Creek through a safety and handling course. It was also important that each member of their tiny community became proficient at quick-loading and firing an assortment of weapons. There might be a situation where an AR wasn’t within arm’s reach and so a deer rifle needed to do.

Brandon
took to it right away and quickly became the fastest of the children at stripping and reassembling an AR. Not to be outdone, Emma was the fastest at reloading pistol magazines while Gregory was the most proficient with the long-gun reloads. Natalie was a little slower on each, but eager to learn.

Using paracord
, nylon sleeving and HK clips, John fashioned two-point slings for each of the ARs. There were only two, along with a thousand rounds of 5.56 green-tip ammo. He would have felt comfortable with more, of course, but for now it would have to do. The shotguns were the toughest for the children, although they found the Kel-Teck KSG easier to use. The double cylinder which allowed a shooter to cycle between two different types of ammo was also a nice feature and one that had served John well when defending his home against Cain’s men.

Next John dug into the kit he kept at the cabin and came out with orange signal
whistles for everyone. There were giggles and laughter at first as many of them suddenly felt like lifeguards. But these were special naval whistles often attached to lifejackets. They issued a shrill hundred-and-two-decibel dual tone that could travel great distances.

Next John explained how
they should be used. If anyone spotted a single individual or small group approaching the cabin via the path, they were to give one short blast. A large group two blasts. And for anyone seen anywhere near or past the tree line they were to issue three short blasts. Calling others for help for any other reason was one very long blast. They drilled on this for close to an hour before John felt they all understood.

With only a single fog horn on Willow Creek, their early warning system had been vulnerable to an enemy with a scoped weapon, taking out the one person who could alert the others. Now, each of them had the ability
to send a warning to the others or call for help if required.

Each of the adults would also carry at least
a pistol on them at all times. Again, this seemed like a no-brainer, but the additional weight was cumbersome to Kay and Diane as they sweated over tilling soil, planting seeds and creating a mesh enclosure so small animals wouldn’t get at the crops.

The final element of the cabin’s security was organizing watches. With so few of them, it became nearly impossible to tackle the massive volume of work that needed to get done if
twenty percent or more of their work force was keeping an eye on things. John and the others reasoned that since they were all outside engaged with various projects and that they also each had the orange sea whistles, they could get away without patrols during the day. At night however, each of them would take turns staying awake in three-hour blocks. Armed with an AR, pistol and the PVS-14 nightvision monocle, the designated person on watch would remain in the cabin and do their best to stay alert. If anyone were to approach, they would use the whistle. The sound would be deafening indoors, but it was guaranteed to get the rest of them on their feet.

Diane’s experience in the last days of Willow Creek with Patty Long’s improvised medical clinic had honed her abilit
y to clean and dress wounds, even remove bullets. Over the last year, John had also stockpiled enough peroxide, clean bandages, basic medical instruments (scalpels and dressing pliers) as well as QuikClot to open their own hospital ward.

With food,
security and medical largely taken care of, the next item to be addressed was water. Last fall, John had installed a thousand-gallon water storage tank. It had a hose and hand pump designed to pull the water in the event of a grid-down situation. There was also a rainwater collection system that would add water back to the tanks or alternatively store it in external fifty-gallon drums. A few drops of bleach per gallon could be used on the rainwater if needed, but the water in the thousand-gallon storage tank was clean to drink. It would also double as their bathing and dish water. With so many of them now living under one roof, the discussion about water had been more about usage. As long as it rained the tank would be replenished. In a worst-case scenario, the many streams in northern Tennessee would do the trick, one of which ran a hundred yards behind the cabin.

•••

John had just finished checking the eavestroughs and cleaning out the fifty-gallon drum when he noticed Emma by herself, filling a sandbag. Sandbag was a misnomer since the bags weren’t really filled with sand, they were filled with hard-packed dirt. The reason was a simple one; there wasn’t a sandpit nearby. But these would do for now. Nevertheless, John was proud of how hard Emma was working.

He went over and offered to give her a hand.

“Sure,” she said, not looking up.

“How you getting along with our
guests?” he asked, grinning to himself.

“Fine.”

“Not better than fine?”

She fought a smile. “Okay, really fine.” She looked like she was about to say something, perhaps about how much she hated having to give up her room
, and then thought better of it. “What about you?” Emma asked, shielding her eyes from the sun as she looked up at him.

John glanced over at Tim and
Brandon sawing a fallen tree to make firewood and kindling. “I won’t lie. Way better than I thought I would.” And the two of them burst into laughter, equal parts humor and exhaustion. “Our family’s been living this lifestyle for a while now. They still have a lot to learn, but they’re willing. Thankfully, they aren’t like most people who try and take the reins when they don’t know where they’re going. It takes a strong person to lead and a wise person to know when it’s time to follow. I’m happy Tim and his family seem to know the difference.”

There was a long pause as
Emma went back to filling her sandbag and then stopped and glanced up at him. “I’m sorry, Dad. I wasn’t trying to put the family in danger. After all the lights went out and the cars stopped I knew it was serious, just like you’d always said. I thought if things got crazy, Brandon and his family could maybe meet us up here. I never thought they’d come on their own.”

“Or tell half the neighborhood.”

She shook her head.

“That
’s the problem with letting go of a secret,” John said, scooping up some dirt and dumping it into the bag. “You never know how far it might spin out of control.”

“Do you think we’re safe here, D
ad? I mean really safe, once and for all?”

John was about to say yes when
the stillness was shattered by two shrill whistle blasts.

BOOK: Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse
4.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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