This is part 2 of a Preppers series You Don’t Know Jack. Read part one here.
But You Should: The Next Installment
Jack had his ham radio set up in the tool shed slash workshop. He wanted his communication devices close so if he did have to go to ground he could grab them up on the way down. He had thought about getting some extras to keep below but he was afraid the moisture would ruin them.
His safe room or bolt hole was a temporary site, he did not want to load it up with anything that could be ruined, and besides the more he had the more he had to leave behind if it ever came to that.
Jack knew he could survive on his own, but in the last 10 years, he realized that even though some of his friends in the area talked a good game they would never survive if they had to cut and run for the hills. He tended to keep others at arms length, but he realized as a citizen of the community he had certain obligations. Freedom was hard work and Jack believed it allowed everyone to either succeed or fail on their own, but the country was changing, and so was Jack.
It was not that Jack did not like people; he just preferred to do things on his own now. For the better part of 25 years, he was part of team, were each member had a job to do. Everyone was clear as to their duties. If a team member became incapacitated then someone else took up the slack.
In the civilian world it seemed to Jack, everyone had different goals and even those with the same goals in mind could never seem to agree on how to achieve them. You cannot move a wagon forward if the horses are pulling in different directions, even though everyone agrees it needs to move forward.
The ham operators were talking about a power outage on the east coast, so Jack went inside the cabin to find something on the news. Part of the eastern seaboard was blacked out, millions without power, and had been for four hours, and no one it seemed, knew why.
The news anchor speculated as to the cause, and so-called experts were weighing in as well. A sub-station was struck by lightning, there was another sniper attack on a sub-station, a computer glitch and the speculation droned on.
Jack had some friend’s, ones he served with, that lived in and around the D.C. area so he decided to give one a call. A power outage would be a minor inconvenience to his friends. The phone was answered on the first ring.
Tommy T knew it was Jack and there was never a need to talk about the weather or the new aches and pains of middle age when talking with those from the team. Tommy launched into what he knew, because no one called just to shoot the breeze. Tommy did not know much, but had his ears on for more information.
Jack asked about the Russian ship that was reported to be off the south east coast in international waters, a spy ship by all accounts. It was still there and Tommy speculated it was being supplied by other ships anchored in Cuban waters. No idea if the blackout was sabotage, Mother Nature, computer virus or some kids playing with fireworks. Jack asked about a few of the others they had served with, and then bid goodbye to Tommy T.
A breaking news banner was flashing on the screen. The power outage was growing and it has now encompassed the lower half of the eastern seaboard, from Florida to the Carolinas. It was 4:00pm on the east coast, and Jack imagined cars backed up for miles at tollbooths and stoplights. Bridges could not be raised or lowered and the traffic problem would be a disaster in and of itself.
Time to Take Stock
Jack’s marriage had ended years ago when he was a junior NCO. His pay grade at the time was not enough to support a decent home off base. He of course traveled a lot, and life on base was not the ideal life for someone that wanted 2.5 kids, a picket fence and new car in the driveway every two years. She ran off while Jack was in some no name country and the notice to appear, when he received it was 90 days past the court date. He was thankful he did not have much because what he did have was gone when he finally opened the door to his base quarters.
That was a long time ago but Jack was thinking about it because he realized that if he needed to he could pick up and leave at anytime. There was no one to worry about slowing him down if he had to take to the wilderness. On the other hand, he did know people in the area, people he cared about, and if the power outages rippled across the country, it would be a catastrophe.
Jack felt that familiar tingle in his belly, the same tingle he always got before stepping outside the wire.
Jack and Tommy T were crouched over Captain J. Melbourne, his wounds looked bad but Jack had seen worse. The sounds of rounds striking the wall were by now just a minor distraction. Melbourne was priority; the “DUST OFF” was ETA 10 minutes.
Jack and Tommy grabbed both sides of the poncho and crouched as they carried the captain, toward the landing zone.
There was no help for it, the landing zone had to be marked and smoke was popped. This of course gave the insurgents a target. The team, ever ready for evac, was providing cover while Jack and Tommy dragged, pulled and carried the captain. Indirect fire started coming in and then Jack’s ear mic crackled to life, The Chief Warrant’s voice in his ear calmly stating LZ too hot, and move to alternate.
No cold landing zones today and Jack knew they were on their own. The village was a fire-gutted mess but for now, it was base camp. The captain was mumbling something but Jack ignored it, as he watched the vehicles streaming over the hill. Machine guns were spitting shells and Jack swore he could hear the spent shells rattling in the back of the Toyota pickups they were mounted in.
The Captain died on the poncho and Tommy T wrapped him tight, complaining about the hot sweat getting in his eyes. Jack was thinking this has happened too many times in his life. Sweat was dripping down his face making tracks through the cordite and dust as he tried to think of the words he knew he should speak.
Jack and the rest of the team never considered anything other than making sure the captain’s body made it back home. Jack, the senior NCO was now responsible for the team and they were in a mess. Hunker down or bug-out, neither was a good choice, but decisions had to be made and the captain and the rest of the team was making it home come hell or high water.
Jack roused himself from memory lane and wondered who he would be responsible for in the next war if there were one. Jack knew the sorrow involved when you are responsible for others, and was he ready to shoulder the burden again.
To be Continued