Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Cache – Part 13 – C1

The area which he would be traveling through for the next couple of miles had a lot of housing development outside the city limits, and so moving through it would be best conducted during early morning hours before daybreak, or later at night after 10:00 PM when people were readying themselves for bed. He seriously doubted that there would be much activity in the way of patrols on these back streets. Nevertheless, he would need to remain cautious. There was also the possibility of encountering the youth of the neighborhood, as they roamed about at all hours of the night. Perhaps the enactment of martial law had abated that, but it was still a possibility. He wished to remain unseen by any if at all possible.

C1 was not that far away, and he would be able to travel in the woods along the riverbank to avoid the checkpoints set up on the highway that had put him upon this detour. From this point onward, the path turned away from the stream and skirted a marshy area through which the stream flowed. He was thankful that it was not late summer, as the mosquito’s would probably be thick in here. As he was resting, he heard what appeared to be voices coming down the path. He quickly moved off the path and silently settled as low as he could to the ground. He pulled some brush over him and spread the poncho out to just cover his feet, then pulled the hood over his head and waited.

He did not have long to wait for within a few minutes two young men meandered down the path, talking in low voices. Foolishly, they had a flashlight with an unfiltered lens and the light was bright enough to be seen at quite a distance. A red or blue filter would have given them enough light to see the trail but not be as easily detected.

"Tell me again why we need to go get some weed now after curfew?" said one youth. "Because dawg, if we were to get stopped and searched during daylight hours they would haul us off and that would be it! Poof! Never seen again!" said the other. "Hey look over there! It looks like a camo tarp covering up sumpin! Lets check it! out" said the first youth.

His heart jumped up in his throat and he quietly slid his knife from its sheath. He tensed up, ready to deal with the two in a permanent manner when the second youth responded to his friend. "Forget about that garbage! We can't be foolin around with crap like that during curfew.  It’s probably got some homeless person sacked out under it. Besides, Ole' Dawg is waitin for us and he won't be happy if we keep him waitin too long. Sides, you can check it out later on the way back!"

They passed him by, the first youth grumbling about having to be in a hurry all the time, and then they were out of his hearing range. He relaxed and slowly let out his breath, unconsciously having held it as he prepared to strike. He needed to get off this pathway as it would seem to be used heavier than he thought it would be.

As he followed the path, he saw that it skirted the edges of the developed area and he would be somewhat exposed if he followed it. Reluctantly, he moved off of the comparatively easy pathway into the brushy area that had grown up on the opposite side of the development. He had hoped to make better time but remaining undiscovered was more important. A sheltered place to lay up for the coming day was needed as he was not willing to travel openly during the daylight just yet.

The path skirted a partially inhabited cul-de-sac, sprinkled with split level McMansions and empty lots. A golden light was growing in the east, threatening to break out into full blown daylight soon. He must traverse this area and get into some dense undergrowth before dawn revealed his presence in the neighborhood. To the left of the development was a greenbelt mandated by county building codes. Within this quarter mile wide swath of trees was a large bioswale created to catch and hold runoff from the housing developments on either side.

This area was not well explored by any of the inhabitants of the area except perhaps a few of the more adventuresome youth. Most others were glued to the idiot box in the living room playing on their game consoles or ensconed in front of their computers playing games or surfing the internet. Whichever the case, it was to his advantage as he could remain hidden from sight comfortably with little chance of being discovered. Few residents even knew of the fact that the bioswale existed, which in the absence of human interference had turned into a small lake perhaps as long as a football field, but much, much narrower.

The greenbelt had been in place for over fifteen years, giving nature the opportunity to take over management of it. Cattails had found their way to the area and had heavily populated both sides of the small lake. The water level would drop some in the summer, but it would refill soon in the fall as the rains came. The lake drained into a swampy area which in turn drained through a large culvert that ran under the main highway and found its way to the river.

Sometime during those first few years, a older retired gentleman who had a penchant for fishing had released some smallmouth bass into the lake. A large frog population created a decent food supply and the bass population had taken off. Since no one else fished the area, the population was quite proliferate, as much as the food supply would allow anyway. It was into this area that he burrowed unseen by the slumbering residents, as the edges of the greenbelt were guarded by the ever present blackberry vines.

The area inside the trees was somewhat clear of underbrush allowing for freer movement as he moved to the center of the wooded area. It was there to his surprise that he discovered the narrow little body of water at the center, over shadowed in many places by the branches of the trees surrounding it. He had used Google Earth to explore all this area when he was planning the caches, at least as much of it that it showed. Once outside of the heavily populated areas, it’s coverage was sparse and he had to fall back on his topographical mapping software. He used the Delorme Topo USA software on his home computer and laptop when he was scouting out the locations he had picked for his caches. Combined with his handheld GPS, he was able to pinpoint the exact areas he had selected at home, and update them in the field as necessary.

He explored the greenbelt on the west side of the little lake and soon found a perfect campsite under a large cedar tree. The cedar's branches would breakup and help dissipate any smoke his small fires would produce and made it easy to set up his poncho shelter. It would also help keep the rain off him as the branches formed a natural umbrella above him. He set about digging his Dakota Fire Pit as it was the most effective way to conserve fuel and remain relatively stealthy while being warmed. He then began to gather fuel for his fire, and soon had a pile which might last several days if used with care. He was very weary from the constant battle with the blackberry vines, and his pack was heavier with the treasure he had found at the old farm house.

He had not eaten anything since leaving the treed area in the middle of the field the evening before and was feeling a little weak with hunger. He knew he was not getting enough calories on a daily basis nor enough fats and carbs. He was leery of cooking anything that might have an aroma this close to human habitations, but chose to boil some water to replenish what he was using no matter what he later decided about cooking a meal.

He started his fire and once it was well established, took his cooking pot down to the lake’s edge to fill it. The shore was marshy in most places and he had to hunt a bit to find a firm place on the edge of clear water instead of the dirtier water amongst the cattails. He wondered if there were any fish in the lake but saw nothing to announce their presence. He returned to his comfortable little encampment and set about boiling his water. After he finished eating, he was going to bank the fire as best he could with a few larger diameter limbs he had collected with just that purpose in mind.

He pulled out a handful of the coon jerky and began to chew on that while he decided on having tea or hot cider to go with his meal. He decided on the tea and soon was steeping a bag of it. Off in the distance he heard the muted blast of an approaching train. It made an ominous rumble that grew stronger as the train grew nearer, no doubt it being a freight train rather than a passenger. As he sipped on his tea and listened to the train draw near, he felt his eyes grow heavy. Sleep was overtaking him now that his basic needs had been met. He struggled tiredly to his feet and stumbled off to take care of his bodily functions away from where he was camped.

Having finished with natures call, he rolled up in his meager bedroll and was soon asleep. While he caught up on his much needed rest, the wind begin to pickup and soon had brought a slow drizzle to the area. He had chosen his camp well and only a few drops found their way down to drop on his poncho. The wind sighed gently through the tops of the trees while he slept, as though reluctant to wake him. He slept the sleep of the truly exhausted, unbroken by dreams or nature calls as is the wont of some unfortunate souls.

He woke refreshed, but with the familiar dull ache of hunger in his belly. As he sat up, his stomach let out a large rumble, voicing it’s discontent over the lack of sustenance it was receiving. “Ok, ok!” he grumbled in answer. He poked the remnants of the fire around until he had it roused and then added more fuel until he had it healthy once again. He put the half empty pot back to where it would heat once more and retrieved another handful of the jerky. It was disappearing fast and he would have to be on the lookout for something to replace it again soon. He had access to plenty of the bland tasting cattail roots that he could eat, but he would fast tire of that for a staple diet. Modern civilization was spoiled in that respect. But hey, variety is the spice of life, right?

He noticed the soft hiss of falling rain, but observed that the area under the cedar was remarkably dry. He smiled smugly at his choice of a campsite and decided he would spend more time in the area, perhaps a day or two. There were plenty of cattail roots for him to harvest, bland as they were and he had a notion to try his hand at catching a fish or two, if there were any to be caught. It was hard to imagine a small body of water such as this without any fish of some kind.

Looking at his watch, he determined that he had slept for over 6 hours, it now being 12:30 PM. Considering the ever present chill of winter and the uncomfortable ground upon which he had lain, it was a quite a feat to sleep for that length of time without waking at least once. His stomach rumbled once again, not to be silenced by merely ignoring its needs. He sighed and dug out the bag containing the cattail roots. He selected several of the larger pieces and began to peel them while chewing on the jerky. Once peeled he sliced the roots into bite sized pieces and then ate them one by one while staring off into space.

After he finished the last bit of the roots, his stomach seemed to be satisfied for the time being and he directed his attention to the task of rigging up something to fish with. He could use a small piece of the Mylar blanket for a flasher type lure, and he had over 100 yards of high strength dental floss he could use for a line, but he was lacking material to fashion a hook. If he were back in town he could most likely find enough discarded material to fashion several hooks, but isolated here in the greenbelt, he didn’t see any of the usual signature of the human race.

He cursed himself soundly for not including a small package of hooks and sinkers in his get home bag. But who would have thought that it might be needed just to travel 5 miles home from work? He gave up in disgust and put everything back into the pack. Since he wasn’t going to be fishing, there was no reason to stay another day regardless of how comfortable a camp he might contrive in this hidden refuge.

He sat sipping on a cup of hot cider that he made with the now heated water, considering his next movements. He was about a half mile from the county refuse collection site, and beyond that another mile or so to C1. He got a bit excited as he thought about reaching his cache and replacing all the worn and damaged items with fresh equipment. The thought of warm clothing made the task of deciding to break camp all the easier.

He decided that he would pack up just before dusk and position himself near the edge of the greenbelt on the eastern side where it joined the next development. Once night had fallen, he would leave this refuge and cross the relatively open but short distance to the woods on the other side of the street.


It was just about 7:00 PM and he had been traveling for an hour or better. He decided to make camp for the night as it was too hard to see while moving through the brushy areas that were interspersed within the woods on either side of the road. Up ahead he could see the county refuse collection site. It was located about 500 feet off the highway and screened by the trees. It was only open during the day on weekends, so there was no nighttime activity. He set up his shelter and settled down to wait until daylight. After eternity had faded away, daylight made its appearance with very little fanfare as the sky was heavily overcast, threatening to rain in the near future. He settled in to wait until 8:00 AM, when the site would open if it were going to that day. Opening time came and went with no unwanted activity.

The site was enclosed with a 8' chain link fence with barbed wire on top. It only had a very flimsy looking lock on the gate, and it was no great feat to pick it. Inside the fenced off area was the shack from which fees were collected and some various recycling bins. There was also a port-a-potty which he immediately checked for toilet paper. Since this station got so little use, the paper dispenser was full, about 2 rolls worth of paper. He removed all of it and stored it in some of his empty Ziploc bags. Next he went to examine the shack.

The shack was a 8'x10' construct with a pitched roof to shed any snow load. It had a standard entry door lock and so within moments he had it open also. Normally, he did not approve of this type of conduct, having been victimized by tweakers and other dishonest persons in the town where he had lived. But this was survival, his survival! And the powers that be all seemed arrayed against his making it. By picking the locks as opposed to breaking them, he hoped to make it seem to be an inside job.

Within the shack he found a case of bottled water, a bag of Gardetto's snack mix, a pack of Big Red chewing gum, a box of Gatorade Drink mix and a bag of Snickers small size candy bars. He drank one bottle of water and refilled his water container with another. Everything else but the bottles of water went into his pack. He drank a second bottle of water to be sure he was fully hydrated. He had read that it was easy to become dehydrated in the winter and by the time you started to feel thirsty, you were already well on the road to severe dehydration.

Nosing around a bit more, he found several cans of ready to eat soup and added them to his pack also. He knew that when it was discovered that these items were missing, there would first be some confusion over who did it and when it happened. In a drawer under the window, he found several types of batteries new in blister packs. He thought about taking all of them, but ended up taking the only 4 pack of AAA's. He did not need the extra weight of the rest for possible use in the future, remote as that was.

He had no doubts that eventually it would be determined that it was the work of a fugitive rather than a disgruntled employee of the county who perpetrated the liberation of the missing items. He felt a twinge of guilt taking them, but quickly buried it under the rationalization that no one was going to be seriously discomfited by the lack of these items, except maybe the toilet paper, and they could well be his means of survival. He wiped down the surfaces that he had touched, just to leave no trace should it be looked for.

Since it was midweek by his reckoning, he felt that he would have plenty of time to clear the area before his trespass was discovered. As he readied himself to leave, a pang of conscience hit him and he fished around in his pack until he found and withdrew the pouch that held his silver dollars. He hesitantly took out one and after wiping it down, laid it on the counter. He realized he was overpaying for what he had taken, but he couldn’t very well wait around and ask for change. Feeling better, he left the enclosed area the same way he entered, snapping the lock closed as he exited.

He entered the woods skirting the highway and began heading east, towards C1. 200 yards or so ahead of him was a space that was almost clear of cover, so he stopped just short of it to study his surroundings. He spent about 10 minutes surveying the road in both directions, looking for hidden surprises, but not seeing any. Finally convinced that there was no danger, he left the concealment that was his safety and crossed as quickly as he could manage. He then moved on through the brush until he came upon a trail leading down to the river bank. He needed to take a leak after drinking all that water at the refuse station and this spot was as good as any.

He leaned the shotgun against the nearest tree where it nestled into a crotch formed by twin tops and then took off his pack and leaned it against the same tree. He then took several steps to the left of the tree so as not to splash on his equipment as he was doing his business.


Sergeant Russo sat in the comfort of his cruiser, sipping on his cup of coffee, hot and fresh from his stainless steel vacuum bottle. He had parked his patrol car on a side road that gave him a good view up and down the highway while being nearly impossible to detect unless you were almost directly on top of it. The absence of a light bar on top helped to further blend into the brushy road as well as the brown color of the car.

He would be able to see better if he were in the established position out near where the road entered the highway, but he would be damned if he was going to sit out there in this miserable weather. He had been here since before dawn and was getting tired of this duty. He always seemed to get these shit jobs since he was investigated for corruption several years ago. Then there were the charges of excessive force and the matter of that punk whose head he had split open during a takedown. The little asshole was still in a coma, and he chuckled at the memory of the event. Overall, Sergeant Russo was a walking talking piece of shit with a gun, uniform and a badge.

Russo scanned the highway to the east, and seeing nothing of interest, turned his attention to the west. Just as he was taking a sip of coffee, he noticed what appeared to be a man crossing an area that was exposed to view for a short space. The man disappeared into the brush on the other side of the exposed area and was lost to view. Russo missed his mouth and poured the hot coffee down the front of his shirt. He burst into a tirade that would have turned anyone listening ear’s blue.

He brushed the coffee off the front of his shirt and piled out of the cruiser. He reached in and slid his baton into it’s holster and quietly closed the door. He was going to bounce this character as hard as he could to make him pay for his scalding! He ran across the road to the place where he saw the man disappear and began to follow the same path his quarry had taken. Once upon the path he slowed to a quieter pace so as to come upon his target unannounced.

There! Just a few yards away the asshole stood, apparently taking a leak. Russo readied himself for the take down, just as soon as the man had finished his business!


"Stop right there!" came an angry sounding command! He spun around to face the voice and was just in time to see a uniformed man with a badge launch himself at him, intent on taking him down. They hit the ground with a force that drove the wind out of him, rendering him momentarily unable to counter the violence of his attacker!

The LEO grappled with him like he was a Greco Roman wrestler, using his free hand, the LEO punched him repeated in the side of the head. Semi-stunned, he feebly fought off the other hand that grasped wildly at his throat. He returned a punch that caught the officer off guard, hitting him square in the nose and bloodying it. Snarling viciously, the enraged officer redoubled his attack and head butted him, temporarily rendering him incapable of responding further.

The LEO took this opportunity to grasp him by the throat with one hand, and began punching him again with the other. Slowly choking, he flailed at his foe with his right hand while fighting off with his left the hand that was stealing his life ever so slowly. The LEO ceased punching with his free hand and began to use it also to choke him with. Weakened as he was by days of substandard nutrition, his ability to respond to the 230 pounds of his assailant was severely diminished.

Blackness gathered around the edges of his vision as he slowly began to loose consciousness  from the lack of oxygen. His hands slowly fell away from his attacker’s arms one by one and dropped to his side as the blackness began to blot out his sight. As his right hand dropped to his side he felt a small fist sized rock under it with a roughness to one side.

He knew that he was going to die, almost welcoming the end of the struggle to survive. Then the face of his youngest son appeared in the place of the savage visage of his attacker. " Dad! Don't go, don't leave me!" it cried out! With dwindling energy and fading consciousness, he spoke. “ I won’t leave you!”, almost silently as his wind was cut off. He then used the last of his strength to grasp that stone and bring it sharply against the head of his would be killer.

The rock smacking upside his head was effective in stunning the LEO, feeble as the impact was. The attacker's grip loosened enough to allow sweet oxygen to flow once more into his victims lungs. He again swung the rock with more force and connected with the head of his attacker, knocking him nearly off his position of straddling his body. Severely stunned, the LEO made a weakened effort to get away from his victim. Again the rock struck as he regained strength lost from the lack of oxygen. It was a glancing blow, as the LEO was moving away from his reach, but the rough edge opened up his cheek with a gash to the bone, releasing a cascade of blood.

Now the LEO was down, groaning and retching as he tried to recover. He weakly crawled to the side of the LEO and struck once more, producing another gout of blood as the scalp peeled away, torn by the ragged edge of the rock and eliciting a sharp groan of pain from his downed foe. As strength flowed back into his body, a growing hatred of all those that pursued him welled up and was focused on his erstwhile tormentor. He lashed out again and again with his rock, not noticing when his enemy passed beyond all resistance and the skull gave way.

Slowly, through a red haze of rage, he saw that the conflict was over. He had survived, but barely. He crawled over to the nearby tree and wearily leaned up against it, severely drained by his ordeal. He looked over at the nearby product of his rage, what had once been a human being, and promptly threw up the little food he had in his belly. The rage faded away quickly now, replaced by remorse which flooded through him as the reality of what had happened sank in.

Then the truth hit him.

He was now a cop killer!

It didn’t matter that he was only defending himself against a murderous assault!

He would now be hunted mercilessly and most likely would never survive his arrest if he were identified and apprehended! Everyone “knew” that cops considered themselves above those that they were supposedly serving. Hah! You could hardly call it serving when you heard everyday of some LEO or another arbitrarily killing someone and being exonerated of all charges. People everywhere were becoming distrustful of the police, preferring to be victimized by the criminals rather than call Law Enforcement to deal with the problems. In some cases, the people dealt with the thugs in their own manner, and a body would be found that later would be identified as a "perp" with a police record.

All these thoughts raced through his mind as the adrenaline that had flooded his body slowly dissipated and the shaking began. After a time the shaking ceased and he begin to get cold. It was time to get moving and take stock of his current situation. He needed to hide the body as best he could to delay it’s discovery for as long as possible. He knew they might possibly bring in dogs to find the body and to pick up his trail.

He slowly rose to his feet and staggered over to the now cooling corpse. He checked the body for useable items and soon had a small pile to add to his collection. The most important was the .40 cal Glock 22 and 2 full magazines. He dragged the body down the riverbank and slipped it into the sluggish current. The river obligingly took the body and carried it slowly away from the bank into the faster current in the center. It soon disappeared from sight, further helping him delay it’s discovery for a while.

He gathered up the few items in the small pile, placed them in a Ziploc bag and stowed them in his pack after retrieving it from next to the tree. He also reclaimed his shotgun from where he had left it leaning against the tree. He needed to put some distance between him and this location before dark and it was looking like it would begin raining soon, fortunately for him as it would diminish his scent in the area and wash away the bloodstains. He threw the rock he had used for a weapon as far out into the river as he could, and then washed the dried blood from his hands and face. Looking about for any stray evidence of what had happened here, he saw none except the pool of blood seeping slowly in the earth. He kicked some loose sand over it and then moved off into the darkening underbrush along the river bank. C1 was close now, only half a mile away as the crow flies. Too bad he wasn’t a crow...


It was not far now, just behind those trees ahead and in the small clearing. An adrenalin surge flooded his body and he grew excited at the prospect of re-supplying his food and consumables! New boots and fresh wool socks! He smiled in anticipation and quickened his pace a bit. As he stepped into the clearing he received a horrible shock!

The ground had been tore up and several tattered and empty buckets that had held his supplies were scattered about the clearing.

His cache had been discovered!

It appeared as though C1 had been destroyed!


  1. Thanks for the new chapter. As usual, a great read. Can't wait for the next one.

  2. A couple of nasty turns of events there at the end of this chapter!
    A great read.

  3. Lovin it. Thinking his boys got what they needed. Awaiting the next one big time. God bless.

  4. Thanks for the new chapter! It was worth the wait!


  5. ...outstanding!
    ...good twists too...

    ...noted are the morals of our character(a true patriots only weakness)...too bad resupply has to wait,he could have used the recharge...

  6. I certainly do like this update to the story, my friend! Thank you!

  7. Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you all enjoyed the chapter!

    Nairb, next chapter is partially written.

    Busted, some very nasty turns indeed!

    Mikey, I hope this makes up for bursting your bubble the other day!

    S4r, I'll try not to make you wait too long for the next one!

    HermitJim, more updates to come before the end of the year!

    Ken, I struggled to follow my own moral compass on this one. What would I do if I were faced with these choices.

    The fight with the LEO (Russo) reflects some of my frustration with the daily stories of ongoing abuse by those who we trust to protect us from the bad guys, becoming those we need protection from.

  8. Thanks for the above chapter of the Adventures of Henry. Between this post and previous, carpel tunnel must be setting in . . . :^)

  9. That is very perceptive of you. I have had trouble with my right wrist for years now with mousing and typing exacerbating it. Worse at times, better at others. By the end of the week I am not anxious to do much computer work at home.

    By the way, chapter 2 has been updated with some notable changes. The name Henry no longer appears in the story, and the rest you will need to go read for yourselves.

    When I finally publish this story, there will be many changes that are not posted online.

  10. Another good chapter, Scout! Thanks.

  11. This has been coming along great! Thoroughly enjoying the tale as it unfolds. You need to look into publishing...

  12. great stuff scout! [i would've scrounged the 12 gauge and spare ammo from the cop's car trunk though].
    keep up the fine work, dude.

    you rock!

    tom from canada

  13. Hey man Loved the read. Seriously great work. Any chance that more chapters are coming out soon?

  14. I am currently working on chapter 14 after a long break to refresh my creative juices (reading others works) and hope to post it soon.