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Authors: Jf Perkins

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Renewal 5 - an Untimely Fall

BOOK: Renewal 5 - an Untimely Fall
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Renewal 5 – An Untimely Fall

 

By J.F. Perkins

 

Copyright 2011 J.F. Perkins

 

Kindle Edition

 

 

 

Website/Blog: http://www.jfperkins.com

 

 

Renewal 5 – An Untimely Fall

 

Chapter 5 – 1

Terry had only known Bill for a short time, yet found himself frightened and shocked by the fury in the older man’s eyes.  Bill, the 48 year old leader of a successful hidden community in northern Coffee County, normally kept his calm. Terry had seen him remain level headed in a number of risky situations, and had yet to see Bill look the slightest bit off balance. This was different, but understandable given the horrifying execution by fire they had watched the night before.

Bill had volunteered his crew of seven young men, including himself, to travel into the burned ruins of Nashville to discover why the feeble State Police leadership had lost contact with their men in the city. Now the crew of seven knew enough to escape from their storage tank perch along the Cumberland River, bug out of Nashville, and call the job done. No one in their right mind would blame Bill for getting out. There were at least forty men in control of the State Salvage yard, men who wore white robes and pointed white hoods at night, men who burned crosses bearing good men.

Unlike most people living in the early June of 2049, Bill knew his history, even his pre-Breakdown history, and he understood exactly what those white robes represented. In his own quiet moments, Bill had often taken note of the fact that since the Breakdown, race was not an issue, at least not anywhere he had been. So many people had perished that the relative few who remained were too busy fighting for the means to stay alive to worry about the color of any friendly face they could find. It was simpler, Bill realized, when people could be grouped without race. Folks were either helpful, useless, or dangerous. The finer points of human contact could wait until that question was answered.

On this steamy gray morning, he had an answer he could not deny, and Terry could see it written deep into the weathered lines of the older man’s face. Compared to Bill, Terry was smart enough to realize that at twenty years of age, he knew nothing, had seen nothing, and if Bill determined that they would fight against steep odds, Terry would do his best to help. John, in his late twenties, was second in command and the third witness to the fiery execution the night before. John had no doubt either, and would spend his anger, and probably his life, on the chance to punish any one of those hooded bastards.

The rest of the small crew, Jeffry, Nick, Seth, and Rob, were all younger than John but older than Terry. In fact, Jeffry Hall was John’s little brother, and Seth was one of Bill’s nephews. Terry was new to the community at Teeny Town, and had not unraveled all of the tight relationships among its members. The other primary difference was that, other than Terry, the men had all been trained in the community system, knew each other from many previous actions, and could work as a team. In the face of the likely operation they were about to undertake, Terry felt he might be a hindrance rather than an asset, but still hoped for a useful role to play.

Bill was clearly intimidating in this mode, but Terry had been wrong to think their leader was about to do something stupid. Bill pulled back from the edge of the huge storage tank and its sheltering rim wall. Their camp, loosely defined, consisted of a row of backpacks near the center of the round expanse of white painted steel. In the misty overcast, the white paint made Terry feel like he was lost in a fog bank, but maybe it was just the fear talking in his mind. He distracted himself by guessing whether the pristine paint was being maintained, or was just good enough to last through the thirty-seven hot Tennessee summers since America fell. The men were using their packs as low benches while they waited for orders from Bill, who had a quick conference with John, just out of earshot from the men. When the two leaders finished talking, Bill walked over and squatted in front of his men.

“Ok, men. I’ll be honest. This is going to be hard,” Bill began. “All of you are the best.” He looked at Terry, who seemed about ready to protest. “Even you, Mr. Shelton. You may not have the training, but you think on your feet, and that’s good enough for today.”

Bill took out a charcoal pencil and began to draw a diagram on the white paint. “Here’s what we know. We have roughly forty enemy in control of the yard, here. Right now I can eyeball fifteen of them outside. They have several wire cages on the barge, here, which is surrounded by four boats. In those cages is what looks like half the State Police force. I can’t get an accurate count, but they are in bad shape. If we can get them out, maybe they can help, but I’m not counting on it. We also know that these guys are serious bad guys. We assume they can fight, because they managed to take all those police, but more importantly, they are truly bad, evil sons of bitches. John and Terry and I saw it first hand, and I don’t know about them, but that picture will never get out of my head. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to get caught.”

Bill looked each one of his men in the eye before he continued. “Now, a couple of good guesses. They have more than enough boats to get out of here with their little army, the hostages, and whatever loot they are currently loading onto that barge. We’d be fools if we didn’t expect them to have some land transportation stashed in there as well. At the very minimum, they’ll have the salvage yard trucks and the police vehicles available.”

He paused again to make some diagrams of the boats. “Make no mistake, gentlemen. I intend to kill every last one of them today. If we can’t do it, I will find out where they came from, and hunt them down. No one who does what they did deserves to breathe good air.” Bill was taking deep breaths, to control the tension of his clenched jaw. “In order to do that, three things need to happen. One, we will cut off their escape by disabling or taking anything they can use to travel. Two, we will cover the yard and shoot anyone who is not one of us, or in a cage. Three we will use their panic and confusion to rescue the police, even if it means  stealing the entire barge. And... We will do it all at once, with only the seven of us.”

The men looked at each other with, “Is he crazy?” expressions. Most of them had never been in a long odds situation, due to the fact that Bill always planned well, and generally only fought if he had the upper hand. Bill grew up in the early years of the Breakdown, and had many opportunities to fight against impossible odds. Ultimately, he believed in the fight, and they believed in him. The young faces slowly resolved into determination.

“Jeffry, you’re our sniper. You have the job of getting across the river and setting up in the best location you can find. Head back the way we came in, and look for a good location where we stopped yesterday. Be aware of the boats. If they move without some obvious signal that they are in our control, take out the pilot and baddies dumb enough to show you a body part. If that becomes impossible, disable the boat. I’ve marked the likely engine locations here,” Bill waved his hand across the diagrams. Be careful of hitting the cages. The police have had a bad week.”

“John, you’ll do the close-in work on the vehicles, mostly because it will take your brand of sneakiness to move around in that rat’s nest. I’ll be in close as well, so try not to shoot me, ok?”

“Seth, you’re on the roof of that big building on the far side. If anyone breaks to the east, they are yours. Once the shooting starts, target at your discretion. Nick, same job on the north side. That’s a stout fence lined with concrete barriers by the street, so you’ll only need to stop anyone from using the gate. Rob, same job. You position is here. You’ll have the highest ground, so use your visual advantage. If you see something going wrong, and we’re missing it, the signal is three rapid shots, pause a second, three rapid shots. If any of you hear that pattern, check your situation and
think
.”

“Terry, you are in charge of the boats. The idea is to cut the extras loose, and take command of the tug and barge. If you do, head downstream until you are out of firing range and try to ground the thing near the stadium. If you can’t operate it, just cut it loose and we’ll catch up with it somehow. If you run into any bad guys on the boats, you’ll have to kill them. Can you handle it?”

“I’ll handle it, Bill.” Terry’s eyes affirmed it.

“Good. My main objective is to seek out the leader of these assholes, and see if I can get information. There may be twenty thousand of these guys somewhere. If he won’t talk, he’ll die.”

Bill knew he was asking a great deal, and took another moment to survey the men. “Ok, timing. All of us will set up on the fence, except for Jeffry and Rob. We’ll cut through right about there,” Bill said, pointing to a location with a massive pile of metal debris for cover. John and I will go in first to get a head start on the vehicles. Nick and Seth will work around the outside of the fence to their positions. If they have a gate guard, one of you distract him and the other take him out. Whatever works... Terry, you will wait for any opportunity to approach the boats. If you can get anything done without being spotted, get it done. Jeffry, you’ll have to hustle it to get set up. The only way we’ll know you’re in position is if you take the first shot. Barring any mistakes that force one of us to shoot, you get the honors. That’s a big rifle with a big scope. Use it well. Stay safe.”

Bill got to his feet and wrapped up his briefing. “Last but not least. I don’t have to tell you that his is high risk. Everyone needs to do their job or it could go very badly, very fast. If it does, we’ll all meet up back at the truck. We’ll wait as long as we can. Understand?”

A chorus of quiet agreement was given.

“Any questions?”

Seth spoke up. “What if you need our help on the ground?”

“Good question. First, I need you to create confusion. By having everyone shooting from different directions, I’m hoping that the enemy will believe they are being attacked by a much bigger force. In any event, they will have to be pretty good to deal with all the threat directions. I trust you to use your judgment, but either John or I will use two shots, break, two shots to order a charge to the center. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the center was marked last night by three burning crosses.”

No one else spoke up. Bill waited ten long seconds, and said. “Ok, let’s do it. Jeffry, good hunting. Head on out.”

Chapter 5 – 2

John ducked through the newly cut hole in the chain link fence, while Terry held the flap of wire mesh open. Bill followed immediately. From three early hours of watching from atop the tank, he knew that his biggest advantage was that the enemy was arrogant and lax in their security. No roving patrols, no high watch, not even a gate guard that he had been able to see. Bill fervently hoped that meant these white-robed assholes were not in the habit of using sophisticated tactics, and they would fall apart at the first sign of confusion.

Terry watched as Bill and John, laden with knife, rifle, and handgun, and as much ammo as they could strap to their bodies, slid silently through the fence, paused to look and listen, and began to work around the scrap pile to the left. As soon as they were on the move, Terry eased the wire back into place. He took a deep breath, and before he could imagine too much, he worked his way down the fence towards the river, taking his time to avoid rustling any of the clumps of weedy vegetation. He was right on the edge of freaking out, knowing full well that he was in over his head. His life had taught him one thing, however, and that was the only way past was to plow through. So he held onto his wits, just barely, and hoped that he could avoid doing something stupid.

Bill wasn’t the fighter of his generation. Compared to his brother, Kirk, who was back in Coffee County, commanding the Teeny Town Guard, he was a lamb heading for slaughter, but that was an unfair self-assessment. He had engaged and survived countless chaotic fights, in a career of sorts that spanned almost forty years. The truth was that by any objective standard, Bill was a deadly man. He preferred to think of himself as a builder, not a fighter, but when the time came to fight, he was more than prepared.

He and John worked their way across the salvage yard, in mutual support, towards the low metal buildings that served as the State’s base of operations in Nashville, and now presumably held the bulk of the enemy. The various sorted piles of materials served as excellent cover, and they had no trouble proceeding over 600 feet into enemy held ground. When they had circled north far enough to see the face of the building that had been hidden from view on the storage tank, John’s target became apparent. The northern face of the building hid a line of State vehicles, and nothing else. The white robe posse had come in on the boats. Bill said a quick prayer for Terry, because when Jeffry opened up, the chances were that a crowd of enemy would run straight for the dock where Terry would be.

BOOK: Renewal 5 - an Untimely Fall
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