Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Storm (chapter 2)

These twice a month trips to the food bank were both necessary and an unnecessary pain in the ass. They were unnecessary because before the ban on home gardens under "the Safe Food and Farm act" of 2010, his family had worked hard over the years, planting, harvesting drying and canning enough extra food to supply them for 2 1/2 to 3 years with sensible use.

Mike, Kyle, Morgan and Annette had all worked very hard for 3 months in 2009 and dug a pit on the neighboring abandon property. The pit was about 12 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 14 feet deep. On the bottom they leveled 2 feet of river gravel and sunk a well to the under ground creek 40 feet below, the water wasn't the clearest but it was safe, the walls were constructed from railroad ties to discourage termites that permeated the area, the floor and roof were made from old treated beams salvaged from the old county horse barn they salvaged back in 08. The entire bunker was put together by drilling holes and using wooden pegs to join the ties and beams to avoid metal detectors. A trap door was installed in the sealing to provide an emergency escape hatch and a fresh air vent with a small fan was installed and emerged in one of the hollow trees 30 feet away,with an exhaust fan in another. The hardest part of the construction and the most ingenious was the entrance tunnel. Under their home was an old abandon heat pump unit that hadn't been used for years, they gutted it leaving only the top and the metal box, above it they pulled up a full section of the plywood floor, and clipped the nails protruding through the underside leaving the nail heads exposed on the surface. On the under side they installed 6 bar type latches so it would appear to anyone trying to pull the panel up that it was still securely nailed. A trench was dug from the heat pump to the bunker, a roof installed and covered over with several feet of dirt, the normal layers of leaves and other woods debris was then replaced, the whole thing was virtually undetectable.

The bunker was the home of their food stash, several guns garnered from private sales and not registered, ammunition, a small 1200 watt Honda generator, lighting, 20 gallons of gas, and several 3 gallon buckets with lids for necessary body functions, medical supplies and any other items that would keep the family secure for several months or until cabin fever over took them.

The trips to the food banks were necessary to keep up the appearance of normalcy. Mike had spent 5 months in the local Social orientation program back in 2010 because of his survival blogs on the old net and because the authorities were sure he had survival food and guns stashed some where on or near the property. The Social orientation program was set up in an old refurbished youth corrections facility near Mariana. It was a typical medium security unit with dormitories a chow hall and various class room buildings, work shops and surrounded by a 12 foot chain link fence topped with razor wire. It was a residency program, 24 hour attendance was required and no visitation or out side contact, even though this was an educational program those who attempted to escape were charged as felons and sent off to who knows where, after 5 months he was able to convince the board of social congeniality that he wasn't really a survivalist but just played one on the net.

Another public safety check point had been set up in Youngstown , a small town between Panama City and Fountain so there were now four check points between home and the food bank so the round trip now took ten hours in stead of the usual four.

some times these arduous trips were lightened by the sight of old acquaintances or old enemies going through the bureaucratic nightmare of obtaining that weeks ration of food. Today happened to be one of those days. Off to the side of one of the application desks were two NSC volunteers jostling a man mike recognised as Bill Johanson. Johanson had been the General Manager of, a new car lot a few years back where Mike had been hired as a consultant for one of the government bail out plans for a short period, and had been screwed by Johanson by only paying him about a quarter of the money they had agreed on, once the program was over even though under his guidance the program had been a huge, if temporary, success. Mike took an un christian like delight in noting Johanson didn't much resemble the, well dressed, arrogant jerk of a couple of short years ago, he was no longer so well dressed, but still an arrogant jerk. His once shinny shoes were scuffed an worn down badly at the heels, and his suit obviously hadn't been cleaned or pressed in a long time. Johanson had lost some noticeable weight along with some hair, and his face was sort of a grey pasty complexion, He was arguing that he needed extra rations , and that he was a personal friend of Gill Hodges. Hodges had been the owner of ten dealerships before the government nationalised them and had been a Bay county commissioner for several terms, with political ambitions, he was now the director of the National Transportation and safety board. The two NSC guards roughly jostled Johanson towards the exit spilling the contents of the two boxes of food mixing flour, powdered milk, and a small bag of sugar in a jumbled white pile on the well trodden floor near Mikes feet. Johanson looked up with a plea for help written across his face ,it was then that Mike heard the words, "ya know Bill it's times like this that I sometimes still believe there is a God" coming out of his own mouth. Johanson looked up with a questioning stare, in his befuddled mind he didn't recognise the man he had cheated those few years ago, but no matter, Mike knew and it made this trip worth the hastle.

In line six three places behind him was another Bill, Bill Sikes, Sikes lived with his son, daughter and wife on the next street north of Mike. Sikes had been in the system for several years, he had been a heavy drinker smoker and was into pills, and crack on occasion when he could scrounge some up but really was an ok guy, just one of many social cases in the neighborhood. His son, chad, was the same age as kyle and a friend of Kyles sense they were very small spending many summers and sleep overs at the Wier residence. Kyle was tall for sixteen, over six feet, but Chad was a gentle giant, at six four and near 300 pounds. It seemed all Kyle's friends were tall, all of them were at least six foot or better. All were "gamers" and just didn't seem to be motivated as the children of past generations. But who could blame them with the curfew in effect and restricted movement there just wasn't much else to do, unless you wanted to watch government social education lectures, or big brother, re runs of survivor on TV. Mike had his own theories about the seeming lack of motivation, they included the breakfast and lunch food served each day at school, (school was now 12 months per year with a 7 day break each quarter) the many shots required by law and the liquid Prozac (fluoride) required in the water system, but Kyle and his friends were not slackers, many were very aware of the path America was on and many were out right anarchists in their thinking, that plus their natural teen age rebelliousness gave Mike hope that this new generation would be the one to bring America back to its roots. Yes there would be blood, and a huge loss of virulent young men and women but when had there not been, the difference would only be, that this loss would be for true freedom and not some government devised war in a far off land most couldn't find on a map. Yes a successful revolt would mean that America would be thrown back a hundred years or so, but was that a bad thing, in his mind and the mind of many others, he didn't think so.
Mike believed it would take America back to the days when neighbor helped neighbor, community barn or house raising's, large gardens would once again appear, and barter would once be the order of the day. Man and woman would once more be the masters of their own fate. The original Constitution would be reborn, and friends and neighbors would serve in the new all volunteer government as originally intended, not Professional politicians, regulators, and code enforcers. Only nonessential imports and luxury items would be taxed, not the sweat and blood of ones own labor. Yes it would be tough on many but what is freedom and liberty worth?Factories would be reopened, and our unequaled Manufacturing capabilities of the 40s and 50s would be the best on the planet. Is it only a pipe dream in Mikes mind? It could well be but he believed in the American people, and there would be a time when enough would be enough.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

THE STORM (chapter one)

Even though he knew it was coming he's hart still jumped into his throat as the old Mercury approached the bridge just north of Hwy 20. Sitting caty-corner across the highway just a few yards in front of the bridge were two National Service Corps Hummers, with a third sitting straight on in the middle of the southbound lanes. No less than eight NSC volunteers were Manning the check point. They were all wearing the surplus desert storm type camos with the now recognisable American Flag shoulder patch with the bright gold NSC stitched across the face. The third Humvee in the middle of the road was maned by two Florida National Guard soldiers apparently supervising the check point, these were two members of the new Florida national guard, they were easily recognisable by the new woodland camo uniforms. The old guard had been disband last year for lack of funding , Florida could no longer afford to support it, so, the Feds had stepped in and nationalised it funding it from the presidents stimulus package as it had done in most of the other states. The guard had been greatly reduced in numbers of course, and was now made up of mostly officers and sargents , in a training and supervisory capacity, a system very similar to the advisers, used during the Viet Nam era some forty years before. The National Guard vehicles were also the only ones equipped with the heavier caliber SAWS mounted in the turent on top of the Humvee.

Mike had, of course, expected this, and had blogged about it on the old net as long as five years ago, but few read the blog and most were too busy getting their share of the "bail out" money to pay much attention to a crazy old coot ranting about a more and more repressive government that chose to ignore the constitution, "for the good of the people", and finally suspending it early in 2010 when the Neighborhood Protection and Safety Act was signed into law.

The old net was replaced with Net 2 on December 25, 2009 as a Christmas present to the American people. The new net was much faster, almost instant response time. This speed improvement was accomplished for the most part by eliminating all of the clutter that had existed on the Net, and reducing it to 1000 consolidated sites licensed by the FCC. Those with independent sites were allowed to sell the content of their sites to any of those new licensed sites, who wished to buy them. Some site info sellers made millions, and even the small anti big government sites like Mike's were bought up by the conservative conglomerates, who borrowed billions to buy them. They all went bankrupt in march of 2010 when the new Patriot Act III was passed, with the "fairness in reporting" clause and the "hate speech" clause were passed by the senate, making it illegal to use derogatory speech or writing when referring to any government official, elected, appointed, or hired, either paid or volunteer.

Mike's old joints were painfully jolted out of the day dream by the blaring horn, from the SUV behind him in the line. As he eased his foot off the brake to pull up to the check point, he turned to Kyle and instructed him to remember not to look any of the troops directly in the eyes, and to keep his hands folded in his lap, keep quiet and do exactly as he was told, and no quick moves. Morgan in the back seat was tearing up and was obviously frightened, her eyes as big as a Teddy Bear's , had he known the check point was here he wouldn't have brought his eight year old daughter along, until he had passed through the check point a few times and the troops were used to seeing him, and the danger of an "accident" or "incident,"as the media called them, was not nearly so great.

He knew the checks would eventually be installed somewhere near here, and they chose a good defensible spot, the reinforced concrete bridge crossed a small creek, wide enough and with banks steep enough to both stop any vehicle that tried to go around the check point, and offer good cover and firing positions for the troops should the need arise. There had been several "incidents" since the Neighborhood Protection and Safety Act had been passed . Over two hundred had been shot by the troops shortly after they arrived and set up the first check points. A Patriot group calling themselves the Emerald Coast Militia had confronted the troop head quarters at the old library about a week after they arrived and begin to set up the check points, the patriots brought their guns to show solidarity for the second amendment, the commander of the troops ordered his men to disarm the patriots after explaining the constitution had been suspended by Patriot ActIII, a shouting match instantly incurred, followed very quickly by a pushing and shoving, several shots rang out, both sides blamed the other for shooting first, the video from the security cameras were never released for National Security reasons, but the end result was that nine troopers and every patriot was wounded in some way, either from gun shots or rifle butts. One trouper and 114 patriots died on the day of the first incident,
There were many such skirmishes over those first weeks all around the country some much larger and some much smaller. No exact number of those wounded or killed were ever released "for security reasons" it was said, many were arrested and held incognito so the we never knew the numbers, and they ranged from several hundred to tens of thousands. Sense that first week there were other incidents in Bay county, most in Panama city and most of those in the poorer neighborhoods where the people were more inclined to challenge authority.

Mike coaxed the old Mercury forward to a position between the two pimply face teen NSC volinteer members, neither of which looked like they were much older than his 16 year old son, as he rolled to a stop he retrieved the packet of permit cards from behind the sun visor, rolled down the window and handed the cards to the trooper, as he did so he informed the youthful guard that his son would have to open the passenger door to present his and his sisters permits as the window wouldn't roll down on the passenger side of the car. After a nod of consent Kyle slowly opened the passenger door, being careful to move slowly, and keep both hands in plain sight of the guard on his side of the car just as Mike had drilled him to do. Each child of school age was required to always have their National Health Care card/ID, their shot record card, their school attendance card, and their volunteer extra credits after school lecture card. Any absences from school were dealt with by a personal visit to the home by an NSC volunteer with in three hours of the tardiness and an explanation of each was encoded on the chip on the attendance card. Each student was required to attend at least three "volunteer" lectures per week, any absences there were investigated by the Child Mental Health and Safety board.

The six cards Mike carried were a little more complicated but all were required. First of course was the National drivers permit/residence verification card it was introduced in early 2010 to replace the individual state drivers license in order to make it easier for travelers to comply with traffic laws which were now handled by the National Transportation Safety Board instead of individual states. The FED Credits allocation card was issued back in late 2010 when the dollar collapsed and the government moved to a cashless system. The assigned occupation card described the work each citizen was qualified to preform, sense Mike was retired he had no occupation listed, only the number of hours he had spent that week at the direction of the National volunteer Neighborhood help force, his requirement was 10 hours per week. The mileage permit, was of course, the card that allowed him to drive 150 miles per month, along with the Fuel permit which permitted him 81/2 gallons of gas per month. Last was the family food allotment card, allowing the two boxes of food every two weeks.

The cards were placed in the hand held scanner and cleared by the computer, the cards were returned and Mike was given the signal to move forward to the "sniffer hut". The sniffer hut was one of those temporary shelters you used to see at yard sales or craft shows before they were outlawed under the anti black market/contraband codes. Lined up out side the tent was a bank of computers controlling the sniffers that checked the air for gun powder residue, chemical bomb ingredients, sent from fresh food, illegal alternative fuels, tobacco, drugs, and who knew what else. The green light flashed on and he pulled out of the checkpoint at a crawl, passing two NSC guards with MP5s with 120 shot clips at the ready, he kept the car at a crawl until he passed the SAW equipped Hummer about 50 feet past the sniffer tent. Morgan in the back seat was sobbing, declaring, through gulps of air and sniffles, she wanted to go home and stay with mom, it was far too late for that.