The scene before him devastated the dwindling shreds of his remaining struggling morale. He sagged to the ground, the sight of his salvation destroyed and scattered about the clearing, emptying what strength hope had given him. He slumped there, utterly devastated, lost in a consciousness-devouring darkness for what seemed an eternity.
He was lying on the cold hard ground where he had collapsed after the shock had spread thru his system like a fast acting poison. The devastation of seeing his cache destroyed and spread about the clearing was too much for his already weakened body and hope deprived psyche. His mind was steamrolled by the sight of all his hopes dashed before him.
A fluttering sound drew him slowly from that Stygian darkness into which his mind had retreated. It was a familiar sound, one which he had heard many times.
The fluttering grew louder, slapping his ears with its tempo. The coldness of the ground was making him shiver as he lay there in its grip. He gradually began to move to a sitting position, and then shakily standing. Barely able to focus on the present and real world, the sound invaded his mind like a parasite, until finally a realization sank in. That noise, it sounded so much like... A Helicopter!
He sluggishly looked about him, seeking a place to hide. Like a drunken man, he stumbled to a clump of small evergreen trees and hastily hid himself among the sheltering branches. The beating of the blades was growing louder by the second, pounding into his head; and then it passed over him, flying at tree top level.
Slowly his mind cleared. "They must have found the empty patrol car." he thought to himself as he tried to become smaller. He quickly pulled out his well worn Mylar Emergency blanket and donned it like a cloak; then he pulled his poncho back over it, hoping that they did not have thermal imaging, hoping that his trick would mask most of his heat signature if they did.
The helicopter slowly passed over again, and he wondered if he had been detected. From the shelter of his hide he could see a sniper sitting in the doorway of the chopper, ready to shoot if a target was located. He could have taken him out if he had possession of a good rifle. Most all of his weapons had been cached in the arsenal located at Bastion, leaving just a single M1 Carbine at home for defensive purposes. Many people derided the effectiveness of the M1 Carbine, but the .30 caliber was proven to be on a par with the .357 Magnum pistol, and nobody was debating its performance!
The helicopter soon passed from hearing leaving him tensed up, listening for sounds of ground pursuit. Getting to his feet, he began to collect the now empty and tattered buckets. They all bore different markings; C1-WF, C1-NF and C1-OF. The food, so carefully packed, was all gone! Something had destroyed or taken his supplies.
Upon closely examining the scene, he determined that a bear must have sniffed out his cache and dug up all the food containers, eating and spilling while opening the containers with claw and tooth. He just about cried for the loss of his foods, not just his but that of his sons as all the food buckets had been unearthed and destroyed.
He set about recovering the buckets that held only his clothing and gear, discovering that the ground around them had been recently disturbed. He hurriedly excavated his remaining buckets, dreading what he might find.
There, next to his cache was buried a garbage bag. He removed it from its grave and opened it to find six cans of food and a note in a Ziploc bag. The note read:
"Dad, something got to all the food before us. Not sure what it was. I took most of the cans because I would have nothing otherwise. I left you a few though. Hope you're ok. They came for me at school but I gave them the slip using the tactics that we had planned and practiced. Love ya, OughtSix"
He felt a great relief that after a few elated moments morphed into a lopsided worry as he now knew at least one of his son's was safe. All the hours planning, the dry runs and scouting of routes had paid off. It had been originally a plan to deal with several emergencies, such as terrorist attack, earthquake or flood. It was made to overcome a lock-down scenario which could potentially render OughtSix vulnerable to manipulation by Jack-Booted Thugs as well. Now it was revealed as time well spent!
But what about his oldest son, Neo? Since he had graduated high school and was not yet attending college, he was using a modified escape plan for arriving at C1 and the final rendezvous at Bastion. He sometimes felt that Neo was just humoring him, going along so as not disappoint him. It was normal teenage behavior, more focused on girls, food, sleep and video games. He knew that some if not all the preps were being absorbed into his distracted mind, as he seemed to be able to discuss most all the topics that were part of his training, but still, it seemed as though only part of his attention was there sometimes.
He retrieved the other buckets and after he had covered up the signs of activity, retreated into the evergreen thicket to unload the contents and re-load them into his pack.
When setting up the caches, he had divided each family member’s items into groups of three, food, clothing and gear. Items that would benefit from it were vacuum packed. This protected them further from moisture as well as compressing items such as clothing, allowing more to fit within the buckets. Items that may rust were coated with a layer of Vaseline and wrapped in wax paper. They were then sealed in a bag with a moisture and a oxygen absorber.
In order to determine which bucket belonged to whom he decided on a numbering system based on what the bucket held and to whom it belonged. There was also the issue of marking the buckets as to where they were going to be cached. All the buckets used were 6 gallon vs. the 5 gallon. Green buckets were preferred but not used exclusively.
Based on the Cache location, the buckets all were marked C1, C2, and so on. Next, he used the first letter of their code names, Wilson, OughtSix and Neo as an identifier as to the owner of each bucket. Then was Gear, Food, and Clothing, or C1-WF, C1-WG, C1-WC. If there was more than one container of the same category per cache, it was marked as 1, 2, 3 and so on. C2-WF1 was "Wilson's" 1st food bucket at Cache C2. He kept a list on his computer in an encrypted file and in a paper notebook in his EDC as to the contents, the date packaged, and the date cached. Any expiration dates were also recorded so that if needed, the contents could be rotated. Included were the encrypted GPS and map coordinates for each cache. This info was also recorded in a coded manner so that only he and his sons could read them. The last three locations were left out as they could be determined by landmarks once you had arrived at Cache 7.
Cache One had been planned first of all the caches as he tested different concepts, its contents reflecting what he felt would be needed most on a "Hard Bugout", that is one without any warning, just get out of the house and go carrying nothing, with perhaps even no shoes! All the other caches were planned in reverse order from C10 to C2. This was because he knew what he wanted at the final refuge and what could be needed along the way to reach it. Some of the caches were located near constructed camps, with specific goods for that location. He originally planned the caches to ride out the Ninety Days following an economic collapse or Pandemic event, that time frame in which all hell would break loose and the great die-off would begin. In the case of Pandemic it could be several years before he would attempt to rejoin whatever was left of Society, if it was worthy to do so.
Sitting on the bucket marked C1-WG1 he used the small plastic tool that had been taped to C1-WC to lift the lid off it. He grinned as he looked in at the contents. He felt almost wealthy with these additions to his possessions.
He reached into the bucket and pulled out his brand new, mildly broken-in boots along with his vacuum packed wool Commando sweater. He wanted to put the sweater on then and there but held off until he had secured a safe camp for the evening. He wanted to "bathe" using the wet-wipes that were part of the hygiene kit included. A tooth brush and toothpaste had a date with his teeth also after all was settled. A wide grin spread across his face as he relished the thought of replacing the worn out and ruined boots he was currently tying onto his feet each day. There in vacuum sealed bags were three pair of brand new wool socks. 1 pair each were stuffed into his boots. A set of Polypropylene thermal underwear was also stuffed into the bucket like an afterthought. He dumped the contents of the bucket onto his lap, looking them over for any damage, but thankfully finding none.
He decided to wait no longer and took off the tattered remains of his failed boots. SOP would have him remove only one boot at a time, but he was not in the state of mind to be following commonly established rules.
He opened C1-WG1 with the plastic tool and removed the First Aid kit from the bucket. He extracted the depleted kit from his pack and combined the contents of the two, saving out a roll of gauze, some tape and the container of Bag Balm. He would see to his feet before replacing his socks and shoes with the fresh ones from the bucket.
His feet were healing nicely, which he credited to using the Bag Balm each day as he tended to them. The ointment kept the skin soft and it's antiseptic properties kept infection at bay. Without it, he would most likely be holed up somewhere waiting for them to heal. Starving as it were, most likely having run out of food at some point. Satisfied with his endeavor, he completed his work by putting the 1st aid supplies away and then set to donning his new socks.
Pulling the wools socks on was near bliss after so many days of wearing the tattered remains of the previous pair. He could feel his feet warming as the wool did its job, and after a bit, for the first time in what seemed like forever, he had warm feet again! Now to set up camp for the evening. It would be a simple implementation as he was going to move out at daylight.
The poncho was once again employed in the role of covering shelter with his ground cloth laid underneath. He sat there on his erstwhile bed and began to empty all of his buckets into his lap.
1 set of Woodland BDUs
3 pair wool socks (one pair worn)
1 pair cotton socks
1 set thermal underwear, Polypropylene
1 wool Commando sweater
1 pair boots, broken in, waterproofed (on feet)
1 pair Leather "Camp" Moccasins
Trangia stove and fuel bottle
Fire starter kit (Kitchen Matches, Lint tinder, Mag bar, lighters, Fire Steel)
50 rounds .22 LR, Subsonic
20 rounds .38 special JHP on SKS stripper clips
1 box (25 rounds) shotgun shells, No. 4 shot
5 slug rounds
5 rounds 000 Buckshot
60 rounds 7.62x39mm
1 GMRS radio w/2 sets Lithium batteries
4 AA batteries, Lithium
4 AAA batteries, Lithium
1 pair gloves, Thinsulate lined, leather palm and fingers
1 large kitchen knife, in homemade leather sheath
1 hatchet (yard sale purchase)
300 feet 550 Paracord
8x10 Silnylon tarp
LED Headlamp with Red diffuser lens
1 can peaches
1 can condensed soup, Cream of Mushroom
1 can condensed soup, Cream of Chicken
1 can beef stew
1 can Chicken with wild rice soup
1 can Cream of Potato soup
He set aside the 60 rounds 7.62x39mm since he did not have access currently to a rifle in that caliber. He bolstered his worn and depleted fire starter kit with the new one and begin to group the items into separate piles. If he just added all this to his pack it would be way to heavy, especially with the addition of the fresh ammo. he emptied the contents of the pack into a pile and begin separating it into the groups he had already established.
He stripped down until he was stark naked, shivering in the afternoon chill. Using the Wet Wipes, he cleaned himself as best he could, removing the funk and imparting a clean smell. Back on went the wool socks, then the polypropylene underwear, the woodland BDU trousers, the wool sweater, then the BDU jacket. Finally he slipped his feet back into the boots, lacing them tight and finally blousing the trousers. Satisfied he was ready to move if needed and feeling much cleaner, he turned his attention back to the piles of gear.
The 60 rounds 7.62x39mm went back into a bucket, The socks were left in their wrap and stuffed into outer pockets of his pack. He set aside the cast iron pan after deliberating its usefulness as opposed to its weight. The new camp cookset was more than adequate for his needs and weighed less. It would also be more manageable with the trangia stove. He placed The 20 rnds of .38 on the clips into a breast pocket.
His original cookset went into the bucket also, replaced by the stainless steel camp cookset. He installed the batteries into the GMRS radio and did a quick scan of the frequencies to see if there was any chatter. Nothing but static was his reward. He grunted in disappointment and stuffed the radio in one of his BDU pockets. He worked his way through the pile of gear and clothes and soon had the pack loaded with what he considered indispensable gear.
He opened the can of peaches and hungrily devoured the contents. He grabbed a handful of the dwindling supply of coon jerky and consumed it while ruminating over his current situation. Gear wise he was now in pretty good shape, sufficient firepower to protect himself from individual predation. He decided he was going to take the majority of his number 4 shot shells and make them into cut loads. That would make them much more effective than just the small pellets spread. Especially against larger creatures such as man or Bear.
Darkness once more cloaked the land and stole perception from his
eyes. It was time to turn in since he had no fire this night, fearful of
discovery by those searching for the officer, or his killer if they had
found the body in the river. Rolling himself up into his bedding, he
got as comfortable as possible while leaving one arm free for using the
.38 Special if needed. Sleep soon took him as he was quite exhausted
from the desperation that had filled him most of the day.
Tomorrow would bring its new challenges.
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