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Everything of value has a price

On this day, 181 years ago, the siege of the Alamo came to an end. Outnumbered seven to one, The defenders of the Alamo held off the Mexican Army under the command of General Santa Anna for 13 days. With the possible exception of three survivors, the defenders who had not been slain in the battle itself were executed afterward.

13 days later, the Texian army under the command of Sam Houston would again engage the Mexican forces,  this time in the Battle of San Jacinto. Now merely outnumbered by 50%, they would kill nearly half of a numerically superior force and wound and capture nearly all the rest, including General Santa Anna himself. This particular bloody ass-kicking of a battle lasted a grand total of 18 minutes.

Other than being an interesting bit of military history, what does this have to do with anything?

Whether we are discussing Horatio at the bridge, the battle to hold the pass at Thermopylae, the siege of the Alamo, the Battle of San Jacinto or any other battle against arguably overwhelming odds, there is something to be learned.

In just a few months this nation will observe a day that is famous for, among other things, the signing of a particular document. This document, the one we know as the Declaration of Independence, concludes with the pledge of the signers to dedicate to the cause “our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

What this all has to do with anything is this. The degree to which you, I or anyone else is committed to the preservation or achievement of something we claim to hold dear, can be measured largely by what we are willing to risk and sacrifice for it – the price we are willing to pay.

What, then, do you hold dear? Family? Your faith? Your home? Your nation? Liberty itself? In all likelihood you will never have to sacrifice your life, your fortune or your sacred honor in defense of these things. You will, however, almost certainly have to sacrifice your time, your energy, your effort and your human desire and inclination to put yourself first. This is a challenge. It is the one you face, it is the one I face and it is the one all of us face. The odds are most of us will never face a situation in which we must go out in a blaze of glory. Instead, we will face the arguably more challenging task of doing, day after day, that which protects, preserves and defends that which is important to us.

It is my hope, my wish and my prayer that each of us will find the strength, the courage and the commitment to daily do what must be done in the interest of those things that truly matter.

Remember the Alamo.

I just can’t buy it

Let me begin with this: I have no interest in a flame war with James Wesley Rawles, his supporters/admirers or those who disagree with him. If you’re inclined toward such a war, feel free to stop reading, right now.  I have been to Rawles website, survivalblog.com, and found some good information there. He sometimes expresses views I support. Sometimes, he expresses views I most certainly do not support. So what? I’ve not yet met the person in the preparedness community or any other community, with whom I agree on everything. Besides, it’s his blog. He has no obligation to write or accept articles with which I or anyone else approve. That’s the way it should be. I doubt he cares whether I agree with him or not. That, too, is the way it should be. After all, many of us in the prepping and homesteading communities primarily want one thing – to be left alone to live our own lives the way we see fit, including having our own philosophies and opinions. Moving on…

There are, among devotees of preparedness, a number of people who want to be prepared for, among other things, the “Golden Horde” that will engage in mass exodus from the cities in the event of a TEOTWAWKI event. From a historical perspective, the Golden Horde was a Mongol khanate established in the 13th century by Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. It’s fascinating to read about. To get a good feel for it, I suggest you begin with a reading of Genghis Khan and follow the story from there rather than beginning with the life of Batu Khan. Concerns about a modern-day Golden Horde share nothing with the historical one other than the name. In this article, I’m only really concerned about this modern-day version.

The short version of the concerns about a Golden Horde is this: in the even of a true TEOTWAWKI event, many people, perhaps even millions of people, will stream from the cities into the countryside in a desperate search for food, water and other resources. Some people suggest it will happen, but the numbers will be lower though still enough to be a problem (“10% of 10% of a million people is still enough to ruin your day,” is fairly common reasoning). The idea is that so many people will flee the cities as to overrun those farms, small towns, homesteads and preppers who are not adequately prepared. I submit this belief suffers from a lack of thought and logic.

Let’s imagine a scenario in which we have a true SHTF situation, one in which life as we know it really does come to an end. True societal collapse has come, and it has come suddenly, catching virtually everyone (except, you know, some in the preparedness community) by surprise. This scenario has its own problems, as collapse is usually a process rather than an event, but we’ll go with this one. Our city for such fun will be Los Angeles, California.

Historically, when things have gone bad, people have tended to flock toward the cities rather than away from them. After all, that’s where the resources are and that’s where government typically focuses its relief efforts, at least at first. I see no reason to believe this would be different in the US, in the event of some society shattering event. So, at least initially, people would be more likely to stream into the cities, rather than out of them. But, let’s wait a bit…

Okay, we’ve waited long enough for a few things to happen. Store shelves are empty, not simply because of the failure of “just in time” replenishment, but also because government crisis management systems are overloaded. Infrastructure is failing rapidly. There is little or no electricity or natural gas. Gas stations are out of fuel. When people turn on the faucet or push the handle on the toilet, nothing happens. Now, we’re told, the Golden Horde will flee the cities by the millions, spreading out into the countryside, wreaking havoc and leaving devastation in its wake. Here’s why I disagree.

  • Disease will kill many. Most people do not know what to do with their own waste if the toilets stop working. This lack of knowledge sets people up for cholera and dysentery.
  • Crime is an issue. Gangs and other criminal organizations are unlikely to ignore so many people and the easy targets they will represent as they struggle to leave the city on foot (no gas, remember?). With the highways presumably clogged by cars that are now no more than immobile hunks of metal and plastic, foot travel is a necessity.
  • Our big cities and associated metro areas cover huge areas of real estate. Most people live in them, rather than on their edges. If you are in Los Angeles, it’s a long walk to an area with food and water.
    • Most Americans walk no more than 2.5-3.0 miles/day. While some have suggested the average adult can walk almost 100 miles in a 24 day, I disagree. When I was much younger, I participated in my first walk-a-thon and completed the 20 mile course. While I was very physically active, before I reached the 20 mile mark, I could tell I was well on my way to being done. My muscles were cramping, so my pace had slowed considerably. I had burned through my energy stores, so as the evening approached I became cold and began shivering, even though it wasn’t significantly cooler than it had been earlier in the day.
    • In 2013, the Advisory Board noted some details from a CDC report. These details are important to the concept of a Golden Horde.
      • 80% of U.S. adults do not meet federal recommendations for aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercise;
      • 60% drink alcohol, including an increased number who said they have consumed five or more drinks in one day over the previous year;
      • One-third are completely inactive during their leisure time; and
      • 20% smoke, with fewer than half attempting to quit within the past year.
      • Further, the CDC tells us
        • 37.9% of adults age 20 and over are obese and
        • 70.7% of adults age 20 and over are overweight, including obesity
    • The area outside Los Angeles that must be traveled, on foot, before one reaches an area likely to have food and water, is desert and mountains.Shall our Golden Horde cross the desert in the heat, or the mountains in the cold?
    • It seems unlikely the criminal element of our cities would choose to ignore those “easy pickings” that were wandering out of the city. Remember, most of the law-abiding people in our big cities have been effectively disarmed by their governments. The same is not true of the criminals who would prey on them.
    • What the proponents of the Golden Horde Hypothesis (if that term is not already claimed, I’m claiming it) would have us believe, then, is that, to a great extent, the countryside is going to be overrun by people who are actually unlikely to make it to the edge of the metropolitan areas in which they reside. Between criminal gangs, starvation, dehydration, hypo/hyper thermia, lack of physical endurance and the spread of disease, I simply do not see many of them making it, at least not in any significant numbers.

“But,” you say, “you chose Los Angeles. Not every city is like LA.” That’s correct. On the other hand every city does tend to spread out, leaving the people who actually live in the city further to go. Let’s take another example. Since I live in Texas, we’ll use the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex.

TEOTWAWKI has arrived. The situation is the same as in Los Angeles (empty shelves, etc.). You aren’t a homesteader or prepper. You’re just an average, likely to be overweight and out of shape urbanite. But you have heard there is abundant food and water, just there for the taking, in the vast tropical paradise known as West Texas. Accordingly, you set out for Abilene. Using the DFW airport as the average distance, you’ll need to walk about 175 miles. Good news. There’s more likely to be ground water around the Metroplex. You brought a kettle or pot for boiling it, yes? You know how to make a fire, don’t you? You didn’t abandon it because it’s too heavy, did you? Are you making sure you do “your business” away from the water you find to drink? Do you actually take the time to boil your water or is your dehydration related desperation so great you decide to just “take the chance?” Did you bring something in which to collect and carry water when you find it? Are you traveling alone or with others? Does your survival plan involve you making a real 20 miles every single day (if you’ve not done it, you should get out and walk 20 miles. No warm up, no preparation. Just get up one morning and walk 20 miles.  Do you have the very young or elderly with you? If you do, their food and water needs combined with a much slower speed will make your trip take considerably longer. What will you do when you begin the gradual 1200 foot climb from Dallas to Abilene? Where do you intend to find water once you’re out of the DFW area? What about food, regardless of where you are? You’re armed, trained and prepared for the criminal gangs who will want whatever food, water and other resources you have, aren’t you, like the average urbanite?

The point is, I could ask similar questions about every major city in the US. Would some people make it out? Of course. I just don’t buy the Golden Horde Hypothesis. Certainly, as a person’s distance from a metropolitan area increases, his/her chance of meeting a “Horder” would seem to decrease (a variation of the inverse square law, perhaps?), simply as a matter of geography. Once we factor in time, distance to be traveled, physical deconditioning, lack of basic knowledge and skills, disease, crime, dehydration, starvation, etc, the likelihood seems vanishingly small.

What do you think?

 

Mediations

Just a few days more than a year ago, my father died. He was my father, my friend, my mentor, my hero and my primary model of what a man should be. He was flawed and imperfect, just like the rest of us. He was also very aware of his imperfections. To this day, I find myself reaching for the phone to call him to ask for advice or get his perspective on current events. It is actually physically painful when I am reminded, again, that he has died.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m writing a book. I’m trying to make writing something a daily habit. I’ve mentioned there is a lot of work to be done here at RM Ranch to make this a true urban homestead. All that said, the biggest work is that done by my wife and I as we work out a plan for the future. Our goal is to be free to live our lives with as little interference from those we don’t specifically invite into out lives as possible. It’s a long-term plan and is going to require some significant initial sacrifice on our part if we are to achieve the long-term goal. In all this, too, I’d love to be able to talk once more, to my father.

But, I’ve learned something over the last year.

I’ve learned the necessity of actually living life. Over the past several years, we have experienced major life changes, loss of friends and family, huge financial hits and significant medical issues. Each of those were hard. Together, they threatened, at times, to overwhelm us. Yet the things that needed to be done if we are to achieve what we want did not go away. Both of us had a years long encounter with depression. It was bad enough that I can’t honestly  speak of everything that transpired for those years. Parts of them are simply missing for both of us. Things are better now, but the holes in our memories remain. We’ll likely never know some of it. Other events that occurred will probably become clear (I’m currently looking through our financial records to see if we actually filed taxes during our depressed years – not cool).

I’ve learned that, for me, the “cure” (if there is such a thing) for depression is this: I must get out and do the things I simply don’t feel like doing. My wife needs a different approach. So what? The most important thing is that it work.

I’ve learned there are some things that simply can’t be undone. People you’ve hurt don’t magically get better. Mistakes you’ve made don’t simply disappear. You can apologize. You can do your part to rebuild relationships. You can (and should) accept responsibility for your actions. You can’t control what happens afterward. All you can do, is try to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I’ve learned I’m more like my father than I once thought (for years I’ve told my clients it’s normal to see so much of your parent(s) in your behavior – I just thought I was going to be an exception. How foolish was that?). I see it increasingly, almost every single day. It’s kind of amusing, actually. I draw the line on some things, though. For instance, I absolutely refuse to hunt black bears with a .410 shotgun loaded with slugs. There’s a reason we have .30 caliber rifles.

I’ve learned my patience with those who suffer from real problems is getting greater and greater. Life in this world does some hard things to people. I’m glad I’m able to empathize more with them, as time goes on. I’ve also learned my patience with those who are, frankly, simply engaged in whining or responsibility-avoiding behavior seems to be getting shorter every day. I have a finite and limited amount of time, energy, money and other resources. I prefer to use them in the place I see them doing the greatest good.

I’ve learned career military people (including retired ones like me) and LEOs tend to have, at least in their heads, a nice orderly universe. Things that disturb that orderly universe are not easily tolerated.

I’ve learned that a huge number of people only think they want to be free. When faced with freedom’s most basic price, responsibility and accountability, they find it too high. Freedom must be purchased at full retail. It has no wholesale price.

I’ve learned some people seek change as a way to build and others simply seek change as a way to destroy. Sometimes, you have to watch closely to see the difference.

I’ve learned that regardless of how far I wander, God will not let me go. He always reminds me of who and what I am and called to be. That’s comforting to me. His patience is apparently greater than my stubbornness, which is saying something.

I have learned that love is a thing to be cherished and cultivated. I’ve learned that I’m increasingly inclined to agree with Elie Wiesel, that “the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.”

Most of all, I have learned that with all its pain and sorrow, with all its amazing ups and devastating lows, life is a thing to be cherished and experienced as fully as possible and that such fullness is not a synonym for extravagance. For the first time in many years, I am beginning to feel truly alive. It’s pretty cool.

 

Violence is not reasoned discourse

Let me be clear up front. I don’t agree with a lot of what Milo Yiannopoulos says. I don’t agree with most of how he says it. The same is true of Gavin McInnes, who I think of as a sort of Milo lite. I believe both of them use their First Amendment freedoms to deliberately provoke those who disagree with them. That, of course, is one of the things the amendment protects – the right to say things to which others object, including things they find not simply rude but vile or repugnant.

As I noted yesterday, objectionable ideas are countered with better ideas. People get to hear both and make up their own minds about which they prefer. Declaring or deciding you will keep others from speaking, and likewise keep other people from hearing, ideas you find objectionable is not consistent with a free society. It is simply another way of suppressing ideas you dislike.

As examples:

This is not countering bad ideas with better ideas (for a more complete description, click here). Neither is this, nor this. These things are being done by people who choose act like fascists, all in the name of resisting fascism. Worse than their arguably poor grasp of exactly what constitutes fascism and the difference between conservatives or libertarians and fascism, is this: their behavior, as arguably true fascists, is virtually identical to that of other predators. Both antifa and various Black Bloc groups usually exhibit the behavior of predators. To wit, they look for those who look like easy victims, while usually avoiding those who might actually constitute a real threat.

By and large, in spite of their frequent insistences to the contrary, they are not bravely taking a firm stand against fascism. Disagree? There’s a reason they don’t attack groups of armed military personnel, the people who represent the very government they label as fascist. There’s a reason they don’t stage their “events” at gun ranges that are typically frequented by those who reflect the ideas they like to call fascist. That reason? They are cowards.*

Being cowards doesn’t mean they are not a threat. Over time, like similar movements from the past, they will likely become increasingly aggressive in their actions. This should be a concern to a lot of people, for a simple reason. At some point, if society does not restrain them, one or more groups of these predators will elect to attack the wrong person or groups. When they do, one or more of these criminals will likely die. Society will not benefit from such a potentially precipitating event. 

I truly do not care if you like Donald Trump. I have some very real concerns about what seem likely to be some of his policies, myself. I do, however, care a great deal about the potential for widespread violence these people and their actions represent. There’s not much that would truly suck as much as Americans killing Americans. The extent to which it occurs currently is more than bad enough. What they could spark off is nightmarish.

Allow me to suggest, if you feel inclined to protest Donald Trump and his policies, that you take steps to avoid allowing your group or movement to become associated with groups like Black Bloc and others. If you and others in your movement do not, many Americans will associate that movement with those who are simply looking to hijack a movement for their own violent ends.

While I doubt I have any readers who are antifa/Black Bloc/Disrupt J20 members, I suppose it’s possible I do. If you happen to be such a person, if you are truly as committed as you claim to be to burning down the “fascist system,” stop talking about it and do something, you little twit. The rest of us are quite willing to slap you down.

*NOTE: Not all of them are cowards. They are, however, predators who want nothing to do with those they view as being equally or more dangerous than they.

 

Freedom is more than an academic discussion

I remember when Barack Obama was first elected and then reelected. I also remember some of the more rabid anti-Obama rants I encountered in my then new social media life. The same sorts of comments seem to be occurring again. This time, of course, they are directed against Donald Trump and his supporters. There is, however, a difference. What is the nature of that difference? Simply this: as bad as some of the unsubstantiated and arguably misinformed to downright dishonest attacks on Barack Obama were, and I encountered some that were really bad, they usually did not reach the level of vituperation I’m seeing now. When I or others questioned bizarre assertions about Mr. Obama, those attackers who were arguably what Eric Hoffer would have called true believers at least had the decency to respond with a “yes, but” sort of answer. It was usually no more logically satisfying than the psychological game of the same name described by Eric Berne, but it wasn’t usually an attack on the questioner (though there were exceptions).

The attacks on Donald Trump are different. Certainly, many of them are just as baseless, but the response of those who make them to those who question them is much different. From childish name calling to threats of physical violence, daring to question the accuracy or fairness of the attacks is an invitation to be at least verbally abused. The nature of the debate has changed. I have written before (here, here, here and here) about things related to the Left’s meltdown over Trump. I think I can understand a reason for their shock, anger and even outrage (baseless, though I think it is). What I do not accept is that any of that justifies many of the actions we’ve seen of late. Vandalism is not a protected exercise of  your 1st Amendment rights. Calls for violence are not reasoned discourse. Rioting because you don’t like a scheduled speaker’s political stance, including his support of the current President, is not productive. Look, I don’t agree with Milo Yiannopoulous on a lot of things, including his approach. So what? We defeat objectionable ideas with better ideas, not with violence.

Here’s the thing about freedom, the thing about liberty. Either you are committed to it for everyone, including those with whom  you disagree intensely, or you are not committed to it at all. The problem with refusing to allow those with objectionable ideas to express them is simply this: what happens when you and your ideas become “the objectionable?” If you believe your cause is so pure, so just and so right as to be beyond becoming objectionable one day, I submit your reading of history is severely lacking. Enlightened self-interest then, if nothing else, suggests a greater willingness for others to exercise their freedoms rather than less, is the desirable approach. If you fall somewhere to the right and allow your movement to be used by those intent on causing violence, you’re not helping things get better and you’re certainly not promoting freedom, just disorder. If you fall to the left and allow the same thing to happen to your movement (the actions of “Black Bloc” groups, for instance), you are not promoting freedom, merely chaos.

NOTE: If you’d like a slightly different take on Black Bloc, I encourage you to read here.

Who controls your bandwidth?

During the Reagan years, we were treated to “Dense Pack,” a proposed solution to dealing with the threat of incoming Soviet ICBMs. This quote from the above Wikipedia link gives a brief description

“According to the Dense Pack strategy, a series of ten to twelve hardened silos would be grouped closely together in a line. This line of silos would generally run north-to-south, as the primary flight path for Soviet inbound nuclear missiles would be expected to come from the north over the North Pole. The rationale for this thinking went like this: As the first inbound warhead detonates over its target silo, it would throw a large cloud of debris over the entire missile field. Every other warhead targeted on that missile field would have to travel through that debris cloud to reach its target, and it was theorized that the act of traveling through that debris cloud would “trash” the warhead before it could detonate. Every successful explosion over the missile field would throw more debris up into the air, increasing the chances that each successive warhead would be destroyed before it could trigger. Due to the hardened nature of the missile silos, the military believed that the silos could be destroyed only by a direct hit from a nuclear warhead; warhead air bursts were believed to be ineffective to the task of penetrating the armored silos, as were any “near-miss” ground bursts that might occur from an inaccurate ballistic trajectory. The strategy was mentioned in a speech by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.”

Dense Pack was never implemented. The idea, the theory, however, is useful for examining today’s political climate. Back in 2014, PJ Media published an article that relied upon Dense Pack to explain a series of scandals, or issues depending on your political leanings, during the Obama years. The idea was that if there were enough scandals, if enough things came to light in rapid succession, no one critical of the Obama Administration would be able to focus on a single thing, thus overwhelming their ability to mount an effective attack. It’s an interesting, if cynical, idea.

Segue to Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has, in just over a single week, aroused an amazing amount of controversy. The internet, especially social media, is awash with rumors, allegations and strongly worded (and often fact-deficient) statements of opposition. From a Dense Pack perspective, it’s rapidly reaching the point of being too much for his opponents to cover. Instead of picking a target they have, thus far, tried to go after everything.

This is not limited to the US. Nope. There have been anti-Trump marches in many parts of Europe, too. From a Dense Pack perspective, this has to be like receiving a late Christmas present, if you’re a candidate like French populist, Marine Le Pen. She could, perhaps, be elected in part because people in Europe, like many in the US, are caught up in anti-Trump hype.

All of which brings us to bandwidth.

I have written, previously, about the Left’s meltdown over Trump’s use of social media, especially Twitter. They are, I believe, reeling from both the election and Trump’s ability to dominate what they had thought was largely their exclusive playground and bully pulpit. I also think I overlooked something.

A man whose opinion I value (and who despises Donald Trump as much as he does Hillary Clinton) shared his thoughts with me (paraphrase follows).

“Everything Trump does gets reported. He tweets everything. He’s been busy doing a lot in his first week and the Left is losing its collective mind. I didn’t really understand the implications of this until someone explained Dense Pack Theory to me. The Left forgets that Trump surely has computer people working for him. See, most leftist computer geeks think of the internet, including social media, as primarily a social or psychological thing. Some rightist computer geeks recognize it is also a practical or physical thing. Electrons are real, physical things. In terms of the internet and social media, they can only do one thing at a time. Bandwidth is limited. What Trump has done, so far, is determine what people, especially his opponents, do with their bandwidth. They’re bouncing all over, flitting from this Trump outrage to that one, never able to focus on a single thing, but filling up their bandwidth. He’s playing them now just like he did before the primaries and again going into the general election. And they either can’t see it or refuse to admit it.”

I had never considered Trump’s actions in terms of Dense Pack Theory and the physical nature of the internet. It makes sense, though. Here is a man, who at least as far back as the 1980s, indicated he’d really like to be President. Unburdened by traditional political baggage, he has had decades to watch politics. He’s had years to ponder questions like what might happen if a sitting President promises “no new taxes” and then raises even one of them. He can ask how a junior senator with no real political history manages to become President of the United States. So many questions and the freedom to answer them from the perspective of someone not immersed in traditional politics. And he has arguably come up with some answers. That they have worked thus far is indisputable. Whether those answers will continue to serve him well, and whether they will serve the nation well, remains to be seen.

 

Well, here it is

Some time back I wrote a post about my efforts to write a book. Not just a book. Oh, no. Fiction. With dialogue, no less. One of the things I said was that I’d post snippets or excerpts (or whatever you call the things) from time to time. As it turns out, that’s harder than I thought. Oh, not the writing, though that is hard enough. No, I’m talking about posting portions of it. I have what I’ve written so far sitting safely in its own file on my computer. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to post it. Damn. Anyway, someone whose opinion I value a great deal said I need to go ahead and pull the trigger on the thing. Phooey. Okay. Give me your opinions and suggestions. Try to be concrete so I can have a decent chance of knowing what you mean rather than what I might think you mean. You can comment in the “comments” section or via email. Be honest, please.

***

Prologue

The woman was to all appearances a typical Southern California blonde. Tall, tan and toned, she sported the sparkling blue eyes and the rather impressive backside and chest so many associated with “SoCal” as the inhabitants called it. More than one aspiring man, some young and some not-so young, had wooed her over the years. Many of them had been attractive enough, some had been wealthy, some strong and virile. Starting when she was in her late teens, she had encouraged and given into them all – and emerged from each intimate encounter profoundly unfulfilled and increasingly discouraged. Now, at the ripe old age of 32, she retained the face and body of a much younger woman, but had a much more jaundiced view of romance, sex and intimacy in general. Still…

Over a year ago, her best friend and co-worker had persuaded her to rent and watch the previous year’s unexpected best-seller. “Alex,” her friend had said, “you’ve got…no, you need to watch this. It may be the sort of thing you need.” It had been all about what she used to vaguely refer to as “whips and chains.” While it wasn’t a great movie (or book, she discovered soon thereafter), it did strike a chord with her. So, she had turned to that great friend of the lonely and disconnected, the internet. There, she learned of a world she had never known existed, a world inhabited by people whose choice of relationships was oriented around BDSM. Her discovery led to research. Research led, eventually, to the discovery of a local group of BDSM enthusiasts and practitioners, people who were part of the “lifestyle.” Shortly thereafter, she was invited to and attended her first “munch.”

A munch, she had learned, was a low-stress, non-threatening way for people new to the BDSM scene to meet people already involved. Held in a public place, often a local coffee shop or restaurant that had some sort of at least semi-private room for rent, people attended in everyday street clothes and mostly just sat around and talked. The people she met were so, well, normal that her fears and concerns seemed to evaporate almost overnight. The folks at that first munch did, indeed, meet in a private room at a local restaurant, though they had reserved it under the name of “The Computer Users Group,” to help ensure anonymity. And then, when the waitress left the room and they started talking about the things they did as part of the lifestyle, Alex was hooked.

Hooked or not, Alex wasn’t about to rush into her first “scene.” She sat, listened and learned all she could about how things were typically done. Lots of male Dominants or Doms had approached her over the first few months, but her previous experiences with men led her to take her time. She didn’t want to agree to something, only to find herself disappointed once more. Then, 4 months ago, she met him.

Older than she by almost 20 years, he was everything she had come to picture as her version of the ideal Dom. At what she guessed was a lean 6 feet, he was taller than Alex by several inches. At the munches, he was always calm and unfailingly polite. She noticed he had blue eyes, brown hair with more than a little grey at the temples and favored black and grey clothing. The color choice was pretty typical for the lifestyle, but she thought he wore his particularly well. The longtime members of the local BDSM community said he had only been there a few months longer than Alex. Still, he had “played” several of the subs and earned a reputation as an experienced and skilled Dominant who took his obligations and responsibilities for the safety and well-being of his play partners very seriously. The first time she met him, she was hooked. Unlike the eager men she had already come to classify as “Dom wannabe’s,” the man had not pursued her immediately. When he did broach the topic of playing with her, it was not until they had chatted at a few munches and run into each other at 2 play parties – she had observed, but stuck by her decision to go slowly and hadn’t played – and at a barbecue he hosted at the rather quaint looking English style cottage he called home. He was refreshing…and confusing. Not only did he not chase after her, he somehow left the impression that if she said “no,” it would neither lead to his being rude to her, nor ruin his day. Now, the day had come. Today, she would have her first BDSM play experience.

HIs house was a good half-hour outside town, up in the mountains. When she had agreed to play at his house, he had very politely, and yet very firmly, informed her she was to arrive precisely at noon and that he was not one to tolerate tardiness. She had been told, ever since joining the group, that she should never meet a person the first time for play at his place. Rather, she should meet at a well traveled hotel or motel. This, she was told, was for her safety – part of the BDSM philosophy of doing everything in a “safe, sane and consensual” way. But, because he had such a solid reputation in the lifestyle community and because he seemed so balanced and normal, Alex had decided to meet him at his home. Besides, he had emphasized that since they had never played with each other before and because they were playing at his house, it was imperative that she let at least one reliable person know where she would be, who she’d be with and how long she planned to be there. Further, he told her she would be required, by him, to call this person periodically through their play time. This, he explained, would not only ensure her safety and his, but would help her relax, knowing someone who knew where she was waited for her call. If that call did not come, that person would call the cops. The truth was, he was a predator who had chosen her the first time they met. Over the ensuing months he had manipulated and played her expertly, allowing her to think the decision to violate a basic rule of safety was entirely hers. He didn’t really like what he had done, but justified it as necessary if he was to get what he wanted.

As she turned off the main road onto the private drive to her new Dom’s (that’s how she had started thinking of him, lately) house, she realized her eagerness and desire to arrive on time had led her to leave her condo far earlier than necessary. “I hope he doesn’t object to me being 45 minutes early,” she thought, looking at the tall, dark green trees lining each side of the drive. Stopping her car in front of his house, she reviewed the list of instructions he’d insisted she write down during their last negotiation. “Park in front of the house. Got it. Loose fitting casual clothes. Done. Knock, don’t ring. Done…”She read through the rest of the list before exiting the vehicle.

Because it was a mild autumn day, he had the windows of the house open and heard the sound of the car as it came up the drive. “Forty-five minutes early,” he said with a bit of a bitter chuckle. “Predictability is a good thing.” He had worked hard over the previous weeks and months to build the anticipation in this sub for what she, by now, undoubtedly expected would be a thrilling introduction to the world of BDSM. That she would be thrilled by what he had planned was beyond question. That she would enjoy it was doubtful, at best.

Moments after he heard the car shut off, he heard the expected knock on the door. He didn’t even think about answering the first knock. Instead, he finished adding potatoes to the already cooking beef roast – the one he would almost certainly be enjoying alone for dinner, tonight. Then, after cleaning up after himself, he went to answer the door. “Not too bad. She’s only on the fourth knock.”

Alex had tried hard not to fidget or act impatient as she stood at the door of his cottage. Her more experienced lifestyle friends had told her to expect things like this. They were designed to help maintain the sense that control was in the hands of the Dominant by making a sub wait for some things – and by keeping her off balance. Still, she was surprised when the door suddenly opened and he was standing in front of her. Dressed in a green striped Oxford shirt, jeans and, surprisingly, a pair of what appeared to be combat boots, he seemed somewhat surprised when he saw her. Glancing at his watch, he interrupted her even as she took a breath to speak.

“Hello. Was there a report of exceptionally heavy traffic on the freeway?” he asked.

“Well, no. I just wanted to be –“

“Was I not clear as to when you were to arrive?” he continued, still not allowing her to explain.

“No…I mean, yes. You were clear. I was simply trying –“

“I’m glad I was clear. I presume I don’t need to ask if you can tell time. After all, you’re an educated woman. So, perhaps you can explain to me why you’ve arrived almost an hour ahead of the time I gave you.” He stopped, clearly awaiting a response, his face completely expressionless.

This was not going the way she had anticipated at all. His efforts to keep her off balance were clearly working, as she was having trouble coming up with a reasonable answer. The hint that she was somehow deficient in her ability to even tell time had offended her pride. Yet, at the same time, she found it somehow, oddly exciting. Thinking carefully, she explained,

“I’m sorry I am so early, Sir. I did understand the time you told me to arrive. I was just trying to make sure I wasn’t late.” That seemed to help. His eyes became slightly more animated and a faint smile seemed to play about his lips for a moment as he stepped to one side, gesturing into his house. “Ah, I understand. That can, perhaps, be forgiven in one so young. In the future, be aware that when I give you an arrival time, my expectation is that you will arrive no more than 15 minutes early and that barring some unforeseeable event, you will never be late. Do you understand?

“Yes, Sir. I understand,” she replied.

“Very well. Since you are here, and since dinner has a good while to go, let’s step out to the patio. Come along and close the door as you enter.” Turning, he started off through the house, not bothering to look back to see if she followed. Though she quickly shut the door, she found she had to hurry to catch up with him. She barely had time to note how clean and neat the house was. “Almost like it’s staged for sale,” she thought briefly. Leading her through the house, he paused in the kitchen long enough to pull two sodas out of the fridge before stepping through the French doors that led to the patio. Opening the sodas, he handed her one.

“Drink. And, welcome to my home, Alex.” He had shifted gears on her. Now, he was the typical host, being considerate of his guest, throwing her further off base. “Please” he said, pulling a chair away from the patio table. “Have a seat. Now, the last time we talked, you said you were raised not too far from here? Tell me about growing up in this part of the country.”

As she talked of her childhood, he asked the occasional question, never taking his eyes off hers. The effect was almost hypnotic. And well it should have been, given the drug he had slipped into her soda before he gave it to her. She found, as she talked, that she felt more and more comfortable, more and more at ease. Indeed, had she been in a condition to notice, a glance in a mirror would have shown how her eyes had become a bit glassy, though that wasn’t noticeable when she made her “safe call.” A trained observer would have noticed how he “paced” and reflected her actions, as he leaned in closer to her, his eyes continuing to remain focused on hers. Her first call was the only one she would make. The others that would come at predetermined points consisted some of her words and voice – all recorded as she answered his carefully contrived questions. Soon, she was agreeing to not only share her phone’s PIN, but to take a walk with him, further up the mountainside behind his house. She even consented to wear a steel collar with a lock and attached chain. It seemed so reasonable in her drugged and hypnotically induced state. After all, wasn’t that sort of thing normal in BDSM? 15 minutes later, the once free end of the chain was secured to a tree and she was naked, sitting on the forest floor, her mind deep in her drug induced stupor, as the man walked away from her and disappeared into the forest.

The creature was filled with hunger. Hunger and a sort of bubbling rage, both of which threatened to spill over and take control at any time. Far back in its mind there was a distant and ever-fleeting memory of a different time. A time before the almost constant hunger. A time before the all-consuming rage. A time before the creature. A time when the creature had been a man. Unfortunately, each time the thing fed, each time it gave into the rage, the man it had been drifted further and further into the past and the creature came more and more to the front. Had there been a time when the man could have been saved? A time when someone might have prevented him from becoming the creature? The creature had no idea and no real concern with such things. Besides, even if there had been such a time, it had been long ago. These days, the man was all but gone, having reached the point that the change would come upon him without warning. He had come to welcome the feelings of strength and power it brought him. Soon, with more feedings and more raging, even the faintest hint of a memory of humanity would vanish, leaving only creature. In all practical ways, of course, that had happened long ago. The creature was hungry, again, and so, the creature was on the hunt.

For all of its hunger and anger, the creature was quiet in the forest. Much of what it viewed as prey had sharp senses and fast legs. Traveling upwind, it paused often to sniff, testing the wind for a scent of something warm and tasty to eat. During one such pause, it caught the scent of a human female. It didn’t feed often on humans. They tended to congregate in large numbers, away from the forest that provided the creature with a place to hide and hunt. Still, it happened occasionally. As it turned out, when away from others of their type, they were easy prey. Weak, slow and soft, they were little effort to hunt and kill. It remembered the last one. The scream of the woman when she had first seen the creature had fueled its rage, driving it into a blood lust that exceeded its already overwhelming hunger. The memory of the smell and taste of the human’s life blood as it erupted from its torn out throat lingered in the beasts brain and caused a low pitched rumble to emanate from its throat.

The man sat huddled up against a tree, trying to bring his breathing under control. After securing the woman to the tree, he had sprinted down (and back up) the mountain to his house to retrieve the handmade “ghillie suit” he now wore, as well as a few other items. First worn by the Scottish game wardens or “ghillies,” it provided camouflage by breaking up the wearers outline with bits of fabric and cloth attached to netting. This one, like all good ghillie suits, was designed specifically for the terrain in which it was being used. It was so good, even a trained observer would be hard-pressed to notice the man where he sat. In addition, he had sprayed himself and the suit with a scent neutralizer. He was, for all practical purposes, invisible to the eye and nonexistent to the nose. As he was finally able to slow his breathing, he heard the faintest hint of a sound – a body moving through the heavy brush, perhaps?

Alex found herself sitting on the ground in a clearing, surrounded by tall trees. She stood and tried to move, only to be brought up short before she had taken more than 3 steps. Reaching up to her neck, she felt the steel of the collar, then the padlock and chain. Slowly, she sank back to the soft ground. As her memory returned, she recalled the earlier events and began to yell.

“Sir? Where are you?

The beast paused at the edge of the clearing. The woman’s scent had been growing stronger and stronger. Now, it finally saw her, where she sat tethered to a tree. It felt its hunger growing and began to advance, leaving the tree line as it entered the clearing, its growl growing louder as both its hunger and rage began to increase with its excitement.

***

The man almost missed the beast’s entrance into the clearing, so softly and smoothly did it move – a sign of a very old and experienced predator, indeed. “Fucking werewolf,” the man said silently to himself. “God, I hate lycanthropes.” Easing to his shoulder the customized AR10 he had brought up the mountain on his recent run to and from his house, he spoke to the monster, his lips moving without sound. “Come on, boy. Get a little closer. You know you can smell her. Think how good it’ll feel to sink those big teeth into her throat. That’s it. Just a little closer, you hairy bastard.”

***

Alex was very absorbed in cursing at her erstwhile almost Dom. She had worked her way through pleas for him to return, gone through apologies for whatever she might have done to displease him and was now cursing him, his character, sexual preferences and family of origin. It was hardly surprising, then, that it took a few moments for her to become aware of the low pitched but increasingly loud growl coming from across the clearing and to her left. Finally, it broke through her litany of curses and she looked up into the eyes of death.

On all fours, the creature stood at about dining room table height. Covered with a coarse gray fur, the body was wolf-shaped, though no wolf had ever been this tall or this long. It stretched almost 7 feet from snout to tail. Its muscles rippled under its fur. Its glowing red eyes, grossly elongated muzzle and teeth over 2 inches in length contributed to its terror inducing appearance. And Alex was terrified. As soon as she saw the thing, she screamed in her terror, lept back to her feet and tried to run. Even as she ran out of short chain and was yanked back to the forest floor, her bladder and bowels gave way as her body attempted to prepare itself to possibly survive an attack.

For its part, the werewolf recognized the smell of prey as its body emptied itself. Even from where it stood, it could see the look in the woman’s eyes as she ceased screaming and prepared herself to become food. Crouching for just a moment, it gathered itself and then, as its rage and hunger finally boiled over into motion, it leapt into the air, aimed directly at its next meal.

***

The man watched the werewolf as it entered the clearing. God! It was a huge one. “Probably turned before I was even born,” he thought to himself. “Oh, well. Sucks to be him I supp –“ He was interrupted by the werewolf’s sudden leap. “Damn!” Surprised, he hurried his first shot, hitting the animal in the ribs, rather than just behind the shoulder. Still, while no rifle a man could handle would be powerful enough to knock the slavering monstrosity sideways, it was enough to force the animal to twist in the air, snapping at the sudden hurt. That wound would eventually kill the beast, but not before it killed the captive woman before him. When it hit the ground it bounced back to its feet immediately. Fortunately for Alex, the second shot from the rifle was right on target. The custom made, silver alloy variation of a “Partition” bullet performed just as it was designed to do, expanding on impact and being driven deep into the beast’s body by the second part of the bullet’s dual core construction, stopping just under the skin on the far side. Along the way, it cut a swath through the werewolf’s heart and lungs. More importantly though unknown to the petrified Alex, it had also obliterated the aortic valve, resulting in a precipitous drop in blood pressure. Unconsciousness followed almost immediately thereafter as vital blood and oxygen were denied to the brain. Death was not long in coming.

***

As the man arose from his hiding place, Alex became aware she had survived the beast’s would be attack. It took her but a moment to realize the truth. The man, the one she had thought to be the Dom who would introduce her to the many delights of BDSM, had used her as bait! As he approached, slinging his rifle on his shoulder, she began a litany of curses that overshadowed anything she had said before. Ignoring her as she vented her outrage, he stepped behind her and quickly injected her with the syringe of sedative he had palmed as he stood up. 5 minutes later, she was still breathing and all but unconscious as he placed her in a fireman’s carry and took her back down the mountain to his house, where he drew a bath, washed and dried her and put her to bed. For the next several hours he would re-dose her with sedative as he packed all his essential belongings, including those he had left on the mountain. All the other items in the house were simply window dressing – items he had paid for with cash and placed while wearing exam gloves. Periodically, he would make her scheduled safe call. If everything went according to plan, it would be mid-morning before anyone thought to come looking for her. There was a risk the person “she” had called would be suspicious about her rather abrupt manner on the phone, but that was an acceptable risk. His escape plan was detailed and thorough. As long as he had at least a thirty minute lead time, he wasn’t worried about the police. After eating his dinner and giving the dishes and house a thorough cleaning, he ignited the incinerator concealed in the shed on his property, placing in it everything that might link him in any way to the events of the day. When he returned to the house, Alex was once more coming out of her sedation. He took a moment to speak with her briefly.

“I’m sorry you had to experience this. It really was necessary,” he said in his most reasonable tone. “In one week, if you don’t call the cops, the house will be anonymously transferred to you. Sold, for the sum of one dollar. Keep it, sell it, burn it to the ground. I don’t care. Of course, if you do call the authorities, the deal is off.”

Before he gave her one final dose, she managed to ask the most obvious question.

“Why?”

His reply was cold and flat.

“Because they respond so much better to live bait.”