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Authors: Campbell Paul Young

Tags: #texas, #apocalypse, #postapocalypse, #geology, #yellowstone eruption, #supervolcano, #volcanic ash, #texas rangers, #texas aggies

Ash: Rise of the Republic

BOOK: Ash: Rise of the Republic
12.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Rise of the Republic

Campbell Paul Young

Copyright 2015 by Campbell Paul Young 

Smashwords Edition

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8


The Author


Three ragged men held the bloated, stinking body
while a fourth sawed at the thin rope. Their faces were wrapped
against the swirling ash. They laid him down carefully, almost
reverently, and began scraping out a grave with their hands. The
rest of the band watched their work silently, impatient but
unwilling to disturb the solemn proceedings. An hour later they
stood over the shallow hole and spoke inadequate words. One man’s
silent tears, running lonely rivulets through the grime on his
face, were quickly wiped away with a filthy sleeve. They moved on
before they made camp, wanting to be clear of the boy’s ghost. He
had died hard, abandoned by his friends.

Conversation was subdued around the dim
campfire. Each man was lost in thoughts of cowardice and despair.
They failed to notice the cloaked figure slip from the shadows and
take his place among them. They looked up in surprise when he
spoke. His voice was grim and rasping.

“I saw you, today, what you did. I saw you
run from them.” He raised a thick, scarred hand to ward off a
protest from the bravest of them. “I don’t blame you. What could
you have done? They come out of the ash, silent. They hunt you for
miles, day and night. They always do. When they catch you it’s a
rope and a tree and on to the next.”

“What do you know of it, stranger?”

“More than many, less than some. I know
there was a time when a man was free to roam, to make his own way.
A time when a hungry man could take what he wanted and burn the
rest. A time when free men didn’t run from the threat of a

“Yes, well, that’s progress I guess. There’s
nothing we can do short of moving on. We’re headed out east in the
morning. We’ve heard the people there aren’t so organized. You look
like you can handle yourself, and we’re a man short now. Want to
come along?”

“East! It’s much the same to the east, or it
will be soon. No, no, what would you say if I told you there’s
another way? A way to stop the noose and the fear? A way for a free
man to run wild again?”

“I’d say you’ve been out in the ash too
long, stranger.”

“Fair enough, but you don’t have to take my
word for it. You’re free men, you can make your own choices, but if
you have any sense you won’t go east in the morning.”

“No? And where would we go if we had

“You would follow me.”


“To see the Chief.”

Chapter 1

July, 0 PC (2015 AD)


It was shocking how quickly
civilization disintegrated in the panic. Rampant looting began
almost immediately. Local, State, and Federal government agencies
were crippled by the ash. By the end of the first week, the country
had collapsed; it was every man for himself.”

-Kristen Harrisburg, ‘The Grey Panic’; RNT
University Press, 36 PC (2051 AD);


I was on a drilling rig south of Cotulla when it
blew. I had been running MWD tools for a small directional outfit
for a few years, and I was burned out. It was actually a relief, to
have a monumental disaster as an excuse to pack my bags and leave.
Walking away from that kind of money is hard to do, even when
you’re miserable making it. So when the directional driller and I
saw the news bulletins and stepped out to see the pillar, I told
him he’d better make some phone calls, because I no longer worked
for him.

I was packed up and on the road within an
hour; the clouds were already boiling in.

I saw my first death when I was sitting in
construction traffic. It’s funny to think they were still working
on the roads, no one knew what was coming. You kids don’t
understand a thing like traffic do you? It’s still strange to me to
have to explain a thing like that. You see, in those days we
actually had the resources to maintain the roads. Crews were
constantly patching, or widening, or resurfacing. They couldn’t
shut down the whole highway, so they would block off a few lanes at
a time. This made for a vicious bottleneck on a busy road, so they
would advertise the lane closures for miles before you reached
them. If everyone would just move to the open lane as soon as they
could, there would be no problem, but a few assholes always waited
until the last minute to get over. Of course, people let them in,
which slowed down traffic in the open lane, which caused impatient
people in the back to think that maybe the signs were wrong and
switch to another lane, which would cause both lanes to back up
past the lane closure signs, which left no one with any idea what
to do other than flick each other off and scream at their mirrors,
which caused them to smash into the backs of the cars in front of
them, which would back up traffic further.

It was a frustrating cycle. It was probably
the cause of most of the misery in the world. It didn’t take a huge
logical leap to understand the solution, which was simply to figure
out the correct lane and stay there. So you would sit there in the
lane, irritated by the delay, but not enough to make it worse for
everyone else, and you would watch these pricks fly past you in the
wrong lane expecting someone to let them in.

Anyway, I had just crept past the worst of
it, proud of myself for keeping a particularly obnoxious
convertible from cutting in. I was enjoying the sight of the driver
screaming at me in my rearview when the first of the bombs fell
right through the top of his skull. It scared the shit out of me at
the time, and I didn’t stop to think about much once a few more
fell around me, but now I chuckle a little every time I remember
the look on his face. Served him right: he should have been in my
lane earlier…plus I could swear steam was coming out of his ears
like some old cartoon…but that could just be an old man’s memory
playing tricks on him.

There wasn’t much in the way of death the
rest of the way home. We were so far from the blast that the only
bombs that made it to us had mostly cooled into lumps of glass, and
yeah, they killed some folks, burned a few houses down…they
definitely made short work of assholes in convertibles, but they
didn’t do much damage overall, not compared to what was to come.
There were plenty of wrecks to get around, people are always
distracted in a situation like that, but I made it without
incident. Things went downhill from there.

I had called ahead and had Deb do some
shopping. She bought a few canned goods and other non-perishables,
filled up the tub with water. At the time, there was a lot of talk
in popular culture about so called ‘preppers’. There were a string
of TV shows detailing the lives of various crackpots gearing up for
their favorite disasters – plagues, riots, floods, wars. I know it
sounds crazy, but there were plenty of people who were honestly
getting ready for a zombie apocalypse. People spent thousands of
dollars and hours gathering guns and ammo and machetes to fend off
the imminent marauding hordes of undead. We never bought in to that
fad in a serious way, but don’t take that to mean we didn’t take
any warning from any of it. I was never a boy scout, but that
doesn’t mean their motto doesn’t make sense. No, we weren’t
‘preppers’, but I had a few firearms, a modest amount of
ammunition, and a tendency to keep a good stock of dry food in the
house. We didn’t really think we would need anything. At that
point, we were definitely more worried about how other people would
react to the situation. It didn’t seem like a global disaster, we
were feeling about the same level of anxiety as for a major
hurricane landing in Galveston. Then the ash started to fall.

It came down wet at first. I guess all the
water in the atmosphere condenses on the ash and drops out of the
sky. I wasn’t really scared until I saw those first black streaks
on the windows. We were so far South, if it was raining ash here,
how big was this thing?

Within minutes, everything was wet and grey.
I had a feeling it would stay that way. As the wind picked up and
our satellite connections began to sputter out, I decided I had
better take careful stock of our modest supplies. I pulled
everything out of the pantry and sorted it on the kitchen table. In
terms of non-perishables, we had probably a week’s worth of canned
food, mostly beans, chili, and tuna. The refrigerator held another
few days of provisions, but if we lost power we couldn’t count on
those for long. All told, I figured we could stretch it two weeks
with the food we had. I made the decision to make a run in to town
for more before things got any worse. Outside, the siliceous
downpour intensified.

We threw on our rain gear and loaded up in
the truck for the supply run. We didn’t live in the best part of
town, so I decided to throw my pistol in the glove box in case we
ran into any overeager looters. I didn’t think it would be a
problem, but hey, once again, the old boy scout motto always made a
lot of sense to me. I kept my speed lower than usual because the
wipers were struggling to keep up with the dirty rain. Wet ash was
beginning to pile up in some of the low spots so I flipped the
transfer case into four-high to keep from bogging down.

Traffic was a nightmare as soon as we got
close to town. We crept along past multiple accidents. Soggy, ash
covered cops were doing their best to keep the rubberneckers
moving. We made the twenty minute drive to Wal-mart in around an
hour, only to find a parking lot packed to the road. Instead of
wasting time circling the aisles for a spot, I hopped a curb and
parked in a growing row of muddy trucks in a greenspace not far
away. I did something then that I had never done before: I pulled
the pistol out of the glove box and stuck it in the back of my
waistband. We raced a number of other couples to the doors, eager
to get the shopping done and head back to the relative safety and
sanity of home.

We ran into one of our neighbors on the way
in. He was piling groceries into his SUV. The fact that the
majority of the food he had bought was frozen seemed shortsighted
of him, but he gave us his shopping cart so I kept my mouth

As we moved through the sliding doors, the
throbbing roar of thousands of angry and desperate people battered
at us. A third of the city was here for the same reason, and not a
single one of them was feeling particularly altruistic or
conciliatory. We had made the mistake of entering through the doors
closest to the market section of the store, and the shouting and
shoving were evident almost immediately. You youngsters won’t
remember, but there used to be something called Black Friday.
Walmart and the other big box stores used to advertise absurdly
cheap merchandise only available on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Families would gorge themselves and then head down to the store to
sit in line outside the doors for hours. When the doors opened,
these people, decked out in their oversized holiday sweaters, would
make a mad rush for the cheap crap, elbowing and cursing each other
all the way. There were a number of fatalities and countless
injuries due to this sort of shopping every year. As bad as that
was, the scene in that store was worse.

Ten feet past the doors, instead of the
traditional geezer greeting, a big idiot in a wife-beater and
sweatpants told me to give him our cart. I tried to reason with him
but he socked me in the nose before I could say much. Stars danced,
my shirt got bloody, Deb cussed a storm, and I was halfway to the
ground before I remembered the pistol. I pulled it out (I remember
thinking it wasn’t a fluid motion like you always saw in the
movies) and leveled it in his general direction. He got the hint
and, with a parting snarl, went in search of less well armed cart
holders. After a welcome like that, we proceeded with more

It was quickly made clear that it was a poor
time to shop for food. We weren’t the only armed customers that
evening. A relatively well organized group had the produce section
effectively held hostage, and the angry words and screams I could
hear from the rest of the market made the two weeks’ worth of food
back at the house seem suddenly sufficient. Since we had made the
trip, I figured we might as well pick up some less vital goods if
we could, so we moved away from the food riot into the clothing

We stocked up on warm clothing. I had the
feeling it might be getting cold soon, and I wanted options. There
were a few other forward thinkers like us in the department, but
they kept to themselves and we had no trouble loading up what we
needed. We found an empty cart hidden from view by a few racks of
shirts and we requisitioned it: it was starting to look like this
would be our last trip into town for a long time and we needed to
get everything we could.

BOOK: Ash: Rise of the Republic
12.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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