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A scene from dystopia

July 27, 2017

I read a fair bit of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction (we won’t discuss the misuse of the word “apocalypse” or how so much apocalyptic fiction is dystopian). Some of it is pretty good. A fair bit of it is pretty bad. Some folks I know only from online, suggested I write something about surviving a SHTF scenario.

Observation, a lot of the stuff I read seems to paint one of two pictures. Either everyone dies and there’s no hope or the hero/heroine overcomes all obstacles with both psychological and physical health intact. I guess that’s okay. They are, after all, often larger than life characters. My objection is that they seem so unfazed by all the horror they face. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be around people like that.

Anyway, I wrote this. I’d appreciate feedback.


The coffee is good this morning as I sit here, putting pen to paper. It feels good to write, even when I am wearing road leathers and festooned with more weapons than I care to mention. Maybe some day I’ll never need them again. I have time for just a few thoughts today, then I have to get moving.

We had started our preparedness team as a “just in case” measure. Originally, we had three couples. Somewhere, we picked up a couple of “+1s.” That’s okay because one of them had a really good pickup and was tolerable, if not truly likable. Being prepared, having a real SHTF team, was sort of like belonging to a secret club. We spent a lot of time together, built our plans for both bugging in and bugging out, grew vegetables, raised rabbits and chickens, learned all we could about preserving food, bought guns and ammunition and took some tactical courses together. The plan, of course, was to do all this stuff and then, decades later, die at the end of long lives, never having used any of it.

We kept abreast of what was going on, but nothing seemed that bad. Still, we said “better safe than sorry” and used some of the concrete and rebar we had been storing to build the walls as high as the city would allow.

Three years later, everything fell apart.

“Screw the city!” we said, and built the walls higher and thicker and then buttressed them.

We bugged in at first, just like we planned. Our house seemed like the perfect place to “ride it out.” Strong stone walls, a well that never went dry, with room for raising our rabbits and chickens and for growing crops. I put up the greenhouse that first winter and grew other food in cold boxes. The water and power stayed on constantly, right up through early spring. People in town would talk about how fortunate we were to live in our small West Texas city. We heard about the food and water riots in Houston and the Dallas Metroplex, and the earlier ones on both coasts, but that didn’t happen here. We were rugged, just like the Texans of history, and we had what we needed because we worked together to stay fed and free. Those screaming liberals in the big cities were just paying the price for what they had built. We felt sorry for them…and a little smug, too.

My sons, all three of them, arrived just as things were going bad in Texas. They won’t talk about what happened to their mom, aunts, uncles and cousins in Arizona – or what they went through to get out. I feel so bad for them. There’s no joy in knowing something bad has happened to your ex, especially when it so obviously hurts your kids. It’s sad and just another part of life in our glorious dystopia. My oldest son brought his team with him, increasing out total number from 9 to 22 souls. Our food needs went up, but by putting every spare inch of ground into production, we still managed to grow more than we needed. Our now not so little team’s smugness was tempered with sadness, but it continued.

As it turned out, even that smugness was premature. While many of us had, indeed, been growing and preserving just as much food as we possibly could, others in town had been depending on the still functioning grocery stores for most of their food. In early February of that third year, fuel deliveries stopped nationwide. By the first of March, there were no grocery stores being resupplied. Our food riots started the next week. Our little team, like those we’ve heard about elsewhere, spent that late winter and early spring fighting off one group of thieves after another. At least two people were always on watch. It wasn’t unusual to have to get up two or three times in the night to fight off groups of bandits. It was soul numbing to watch our group of typical peace loving Americans become hard and calloused from killing their fellow citizens. It seems like every time we ventured out to trade with other teams, we’d hear about another group of supposedly prepared survivors who had died at the hands of another group of the desperate and unprepared. We resolved to not be among those who were prepared but dead. We offered no mercy to those we fought, killing them without hesitation to save ourselves. We all cried a lot that year.

The typhoid and cholera epidemics that we had heard about in other places began early in the summer. Apparently, our rugged small Texas city included a lot of people who didn’t understand the truth about not taking a dump where you live. We observed Independence Day that year by building enormous funeral pyres to get rid of the dead bodies. Those of us who had been distilling alcohol to run converted generators provided the accelerant. We pulled down old houses and used the framing as fuel. The fires had to be maintained to burn the bodies completely. They burned for days.

This is what our nation has come to, burning our dead and killing each other over bread.

We are in year four, now, and things show no signs of improving. We’ve heard rumors of some would-be warlord moving his forces this way from the west.

Two months ago we made a decision. I got on the shortwave and contacted our friend who bugged out to his cabin in the national forest. His invitation is still good, he said. “Glad to have you and your people, here.” We are bugging out. There’s been too much death and sadness here.

We’ve been running the stills around the clock. Bob has converted every vehicle to run on alcohol. With so many dead, the vehicles aren’t hard to find, but he won’t talk about what he had to do to get the parts he needed for the conversion.

We set out yesterday morning with our little convoy of jeeps, pickups with trailers and outriders on motorcycles, headed off into what we hope will be better circumstances. We had helped keep the roads near town clear, pushing a lot of wrecked or just abandoned cars off the roadway. Two hours outside town, though, the road was impassable because of all the cars. A lot of them were riddled with bullet holes. One of them, right at the edge of the mass of cars, and on our side, was burned and still smoking, the bodies of a man, woman and two kids still strapped in with their seatbelts. The bullet holes in that one were fresh, with no rust or corrosion. We swung off the road and found the railroad tracks. Now, we are following the railroad right of way on our journey east. My sons, strong and resilient in spite of their pain, have started singing railroad songs.

The sun came up in the east this morning, like always. It was beautiful. I have not enjoyed a sunrise in forever. We are far outside any town of significant size. The air is so clean, with no smell of death or decay. The promise of a better life ahead, maybe? I can hear my son playing “The City of New Orleans” on his guitar. Everyone is singing. He has changed the words a bit, but intellectual property lawsuits seem unlikely, these days.

Gotta go, for now. We are moving again, and I am an outrider, today. One more cup of coffee and I will be on the bike.

Good morning, America
Where are you?
Say don’t you miss me? I’m your native son
I’m the train they call the city of New Orleans
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

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  1. Very nicely done! Are you going to turn it into a book?

    • I haven’t decided, yet. Probably. Maybe. We’ll see (that’s some of that Navy officer ability to make a decision, lol).

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  1. A Scene from Dystopia, Ch 2 | retiredmustang

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