Another 20 Miles, страница 1часть #3 серии Perilous Miles
Another 20 Miles
Book 3 in the Perilous Miles Series
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No part of this work may be reproduced in any form, except to quote in reviews or in the press, without the express permission of the author. Any unauthorized reproduction of this work is illegal and punishable by law.
This is a work of fiction. Any parallel to persons alive or dead is purely coincidental and is not intended by the author.
Published by Glaspy Publishing Inc
Other works by P.A. Glaspy
A Powerless World Series:
Before the Power was Gone
When the Power is Gone
When the Peace is Gone
When the Pain is Gone
Perilous Miles Series:
15 Miles from Home
Recap of 300 Miles and 15 Miles from Home
In book one of the Perilous Miles series, 300 Miles, we met Carly Marshall, single mom of two teenage boys, loving every bit of the technology available in the twenty-first century. She is a CPA, working for a firm that is about to make her a partner. Well, was about to. Her sons, Aaron and Cameron, are normal teenagers, immersed in everything online: social media, gaming, the works. This family is typical of the majority of people in the United States who live day to day expecting that things will always be the way they are — electricity and running water available, internet at your fingertips on multiple devices, "instant" food from restaurants, delivery, or microwave. Life is easy, and they like it that way.
Carly's parents, Joel and Lauri Chambers, are retired, living off pensions that are deposited electronically into checking and money market accounts, in a house with no mortgage. They have chickens and a small garden in their backyard. Lauri cans some vegetables that she grows, but she shares a lot with her neighbors during the summer, too. They live about two miles from Carly, all of them in Bartlett, Tennessee, a city northeast of Memphis. None of them have any long-term food stores or any emergency plans. They don't know they need to.
Carly's brother, Will Chambers, lives and works in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. He has a psychic ability that gives him visions of things to come. He had been having them for weeks before the EMP. Not understanding what they meant, he still felt a strong urge to get home. He headed out late on the Saturday night before the EMP hit early Sunday morning.
Elliott Marshall is Aaron and Cameron's paternal grandfather. He lives in Tipton County, about twenty miles north of them. His son, Ethan, left Carly and the boys when they were young. Elliott isn't a hardcore prepper but living in the country he has made sure he can access water with or without electricity, uses a wood stove to heat his home, and has a few months of food stored. He has chickens, a goat, and a garden. He is from the mountains and grew up there with grandparents who taught him some of the old ways. The boys were with him when the grid went down.
The Chairman is the Supreme Leader of North Korea. In his quest to take down the United States, he is responsible for coordinating the detonation of the nuclear bomb over the country. With technology provided by an as yet unnamed ally, they were able to do this undetected, so there was no chance to stop the pulse.
In book two, 15 Miles from Home, we meet more of the government and military players. Barton Olstein is the current president. He has thirty days left in office, as he has already served two terms, but believes he can use this situation to remain in office indefinitely. His plan is to bring the troops home to police the country, as well as gather supplies from citizens for the "greater good" of the country as a whole. He has also decreed that he will repeal the Second Amendment, so that the people cannot stand up for or defend themselves from these tyrannical proclamations, or worse, their fellow Americans who would do them harm for the food in their cupboards.
Charles Everley is the Chief of Staff of the Army, a member of the Joint Chiefs. He is working with Phil Roman, the Speaker of the House, on a covert mission to get the president-elect, David Tanner, to Washington, D.C. He has sent Damon Sorley, his aide, to retrieve Mr. Tanner from New York City in the hopes that his presence will reinforce to President Olstein that he does not have the power to remain in office once his term has ended.
We are also introduced to some of the neighbors of Carly and her parents. With fireplaces being more of a decoration than a necessity, these people have no wood for a fire to heat even a portion of their homes, nor any way to acquire it if they can't buy it somewhere. Their reliance on electricity has rendered them all but useless to be able to prepare food without a microwave or electric stove. Most of them are looking for someone to help them as they don't know how to proceed now. The majority of them still haven't grasped that this is not just a power outage. They aren't looking past getting through the next day or so. They don't understand that their lives have changed forever.
We meet one of Elliott's neighbors, Roger Harrison, as well. Living in the country doesn't equal preparedness. While the folks in town on city water will have that available for a short while, anyone on a well has no water when the power goes out. Most of those people don't have a manual hand pump for backup because, as with the folks in town, they haven't known a time when the power has been out for more than a few hours. They didn't see the need. They thought they had the best of both worlds — living in the country but only ten minutes from the city. When they realize this isn't going to be over today, tomorrow, next week, or any time in the foreseeable future, they must come to grips with the fact that life is about to get really hard.
Will was almost home when the bomb went off. Striking out on foot after his SUV was disabled on the interstate, he met a woman named Amanda Frye on the way. He invited her to come home with him, since her own home was nine hundred miles away. She accepted his offer and made it with him to Joel and Lauri's house. Carly is not dealing with things well at all and alternates between crying jags and snarky retorts to those around her.
Ethan Marshall, Elliott's son and Aaron and Cameron's father, shows up unexpectedly at Elliott's door. Emotions run the gamut for Elliott, Aaron, and Cameron. Will Ethan's announcement that he's dying soften Aaron's enmity for his absentee father?
And now, the continuation of the Perilous Miles series, Another 20 Miles.
Damon had been on the road for most of the day. He was stiff from sitting in the same position for so long, and his leg was aching from not being used. The sun setting behind him told him the day was coming to an end. He was still at least an hour from New York City. There was no way he was going in there alone at night. He needed to find a place to hunker down for the night.
He stopped again to consult his maps, both civilian and military. He took the opportunity to get out to stretch his legs and relieve himself. He had stopped just south of another residential area, Milltown, New Jersey. He could see signs up ahead for The Home Depot and Target in the waning remnants of daylight. That was definitely not an area where he could secure his vehicle, much less himself. He got back in the Humvee, locked the doors out of habit, pulled out a tactical flashlight, and consulted the map of bases and armories. His ride was a bit obvious, both because it was a military vehicle, and because it actually ran. He needed a place he could blend in.
He found a National Guard armory not far from his current location. It would take him off his preferred route, but he felt that the loss of travel time would be made up for in what he hoped would be a more secure location than out on the open road. The ramp off the turnpike to Highway 18, also known as Memorial Parkway, was just about a mile ahead. The area wasn't ideal. There were a lot of houses and apartments between him and the armo
A fist hitting the driver's side window made Damon jump in surprise. He instinctively reached for his sidearm. Turning his head, he saw a man standing beside the vehicle trying to open the door. Finding it locked, the man beat his fist against the window again.
"Hey! Where'd you get the Hummer? How come yours runs and nobody else's does? Are you with the government? What's going on? Open the door!" The man rattled off question after question, punctuating each one with another fist to the window. Damon pulled his pistol up into view. The stranger took a couple of steps back but continued to stare at Damon with hate-filled eyes. Damon reached down and turned the ignition, firing up the Humvee. The man's eyes grew wide, as he realized Damon was getting ready to leave. He took a step forward again, shouting, "Why aren't you helping us? Where is the government or the Red Cross? We're going to run out of food in just a couple of days! I've got three kids and no way to feed them! We need help!"
Damon looked at the man and replied sadly through the closed window, "I'm not here to help you. I don't know when or if help is coming. You need to go home and lock your doors. I'm sorry, I have to go. Good luck — you're going to need it. We all are." With that, Damon put the vehicle in gear and quickly pulled away. He could see the man in his rear-view mirror running behind him, slipping on the roads that were iced over with no traffic to melt it, shaking his fist and yelling something Damon could no longer hear. He wasn't lying when he told the man he was sorry — he felt genuine compassion for his plight. Damon was glad he hadn't married or had kids. He couldn't even fathom not being able to feed them in a place that seemed to have always been teeming with food. Fast food joints on every corner; restaurants for miles; even gas stations served hot food, so to speak. To think that in the amount of time it took to snap one's fingers it was all gone was more than he could process. He looked over at the snacks he had brought. He didn't know how long they would last. Hopefully, long enough to get him to his destination. After that, he had no clue. He was no more prepared for a life without electricity than most of the other people in the country.
He continued on until he reached the exit for Memorial Parkway. As with all toll roads, there was one last booth before the end. Just like the others he had passed, the arms were broken, leaving Damon again to wonder who had come through in a working vehicle to do the damage. He hoped it was U.S. military. Any alternative he could imagine was not comforting.
The interchange was massive, with more than a dozen lanes coming together. He couldn't help but think what a nightmare rush-hour traffic was like here. There were quite a few abandoned cars in both directions but no people that he could see. As it had been at least twelve hours since the blast, he was pretty certain anyone who had been driving through there had sought shelter before the sun went down. If he recalled correctly, the weather forecast had called for lows in the low teens along the Eastern seaboard north of D.C. for the next few days. Without shelter, proper clothing, or the right gear, people couldn't live through that. Considering most of the city populations heated their homes with electric heat, he knew many Americans would likely die of exposure, even if they were in their homes. At some point, without heat on the inside, it would come close to the temperature of the outside.
Damon was able to weave around the dead cars and trucks and made his entrance onto Memorial Parkway. It appeared most if not all of the residents in the area were inside their homes. He saw no one outside, thankfully. He progressed well to the next exit that would take him to Johnson Drive. Johnson Drive would become Hamilton Street, which was where the armory was located. He just had to get through about three miles of a heavily-populated residential area first.
He had expected to see evidence of looting at grocery and convenience stores. He didn't expect to see restaurants with their doors kicked in. But then, why shouldn't he have? Restaurants were places with food, and usually a lot of it in industrial-sized cans or crates. Every one of them he passed appeared to have been vandalized and stripped. And this is just the first day, he thought. What will it be like in a week, when all the food is gone?
There were a few places where people were congregated outside around barrels with their contents burning. The flames lit up the area around them showing the fear and uncertainty on their faces. At the sound of the Humvee, heads turned toward the street; a few of them even took steps toward him. Damon didn't slow down. In fact, if it looked like someone was heading his direction he sped up.
He made his way down the street at a decent rate of speed until he reached the parking lot for a strip mall with a dollar store and a number of small restaurants. The lot was a decent size, spanning Hamilton from one cross street to the next. And it had a lot of people in it. Damon could see from the kerosene lanterns and flashlights held by some of the people there that every storefront in the building had been broken in. At the sound of his approach, every flashlight beam was trained on the road in front of him, then his vehicle. Many of the onlookers hurried toward the sound. He tried to speed up again. He wasn't quick enough. At least half a dozen men stepped out and stretched across the two-lane street. He considered taking the sidewalk to his left, but his moment of hesitation gave the men time to block that as well. Damon stopped about a hundred feet from them, engine idling. He had a decision to make — and this one would probably cost someone their life.
When he didn't exit the vehicle, one of the men in the street raised a shotgun and leveled it at Damon's head. He called out, "You need to just come on out of that car, buddy. We don't want to hurt you. We just want that ride and anything in it."
Damon had both pistols in his lap. He knew there was no danger of the shotgun pellets piercing the glass — he just didn't know what other weapons they might have. He was aware New Jersey had some of the strictest gun laws in the country. He also knew that not everyone who lived there agreed with having their Second Amendment rights violated. There would most definitely be guns about which the local and state authorities were in the dark.
When Damon didn't comply, the man yelled louder, "I said for you to get out of that Hummer! You hard of hearing? Don't make me shoot you!"
Damon picked up his Sig and held it up for the man to see. He rolled the window down ever so slightly and said, "I can't do that. I have orders. I'm on official military business. I'm going to need you men to clear the road. Don't make me run you down."
The man answered with a fake laugh. "Oh! Oh, I see — official military business. Real nice coincidence that your official military vehicle just happens to still be running when no one else's does. Why is that? And where's the rest of the military, or the National Guard … hell, anybody with some food and water would be great! I bet you have food and water in there with you though, huh? That's how this works — the government takes care of themselves and screw everybody else! You think we're stupid? You think we don't know this isn't going to get fixed overnight? We know! We figured it out. How are we supposed to feed our kids next week when there's no food now?"
The crowd grew louder at the man's comments, voicing their support for him and his companions in the middle of the street. Damon didn't blame them. He knew there were probably millions of people in the country who were thinking the same thing. He wished he had answers for them. He didn't. That was way above his pay grade. The crowd seemed to be moving toward the street to join the men blocking his way. Damon knew he had to move before they got there, or this would end bloody.
He revved the engine then put the gear shift in drive. He started forward slowly as he raised his head up to the small opening in the door window. "I don't know much more than you, sir. I can't help you. I have to go now. Either move or I will be forced to drive over you." He let the Hu
"You aren't leaving with that truck! Stop, or I'll shoot!" When Damon didn't stop, the man fired at the windshield. Damon instinctively ducked even though the pellets from what was obviously bird shot did little more than ping off the glass. The man racked the gun to chamber a new round as Damon increased his speed. Seeing their companion's shot had no effect on the Humvee, his compatriots ran for the sidewalks on either side. The shooter seemed to be committed to holding his ground until Damon was about five feet away. At the last minute, he too dove for the sidewalk. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite quick enough. The grill over the front caught him in the side and pitched him up into the crowd gathered there. Damon didn't stop to check on him. He kept going until the crowd was no longer visible in his rear-view mirror. He had a slight tremor in his hands, undoubtedly from the adrenalin rush, but he knew he had had no choice but to do what he did. His task had to be completed. The fate of the country could very well depend on it.
He kept his speed up through the rest of the residential areas. The few people who were out looked up at the sound of the engine but thought better of approaching at the speed at which he was traveling. He arrived at the armory a few minutes later. There was no one manning the gate. He drove through and straight to the back of the building. He was hoping at least someone would be there to lend fire support if he needed it, but the place looked deserted. He was just about to rethink the choice when a flashlight lit up the cab of the Humvee and a voice called out, "I hope you didn't steal that ride, buddy. Let's see some ID."