Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fiction - Part V - No Rest For the Wicked

Saying to himself, “No rest for the wicked!” Natog got up off of the couch and stretched. While letting the dogs back in, he got the grill fired up for dinner.

His second stop was his gun safe. Pulling his holster from off the top, he put it on his belt. Opening his safe, he pulled out his Sig p220, two magazines and a box of .45ACP jacketed hollow points. Loading a magazine in the Sig, he racked the slide to load a round in the chamber, and then decocked the hammer. Ejecting the clip, he loaded a round from the box of ammo into the magazine and loaded it into the pistol again. Slipping the pistol into its holster, he adjusted it until it was comfortable. After filling the second magazine and slipping it into his pocket, he put the box of ammunition back in the safe, locking it up.

His dogs were watching him and begging for food with their eyes.

Turning to the dogs Natog asked, “Should I load up the shotgun?”

Thor turned his head with his ears perked up, looking very much like he understood exactly what Natog was talking about and gave a small bark. Loki looked bored with the whole situation.
“Yeah I guess Loki’s right, no need to get hasty. The golden horde won’t be running amuck for a while yet. Heaven help me if the cops show up to check in and see it, I’d get my ass kicked like that old lady on the hurricane Katrina video.”

Puttering about the kitchen, Natog fired up the stove to heat up some baked beans without thinking about it. It wasn’t until he tossed his steak onto the grill he realized he still had gas pressure for his stove.

While the steak was cooking and the beans warming, Natog raided his linen closet. Using a stapler from his garage, Natog blacked out the windows in the common area of the house with extra dark colored blankets and sheets.

Natog’s home was a small cottage that had an in-law apartment attached, with a garage on the far side of the in-law apartment. It was built in the 40’s and a lot of work had been done updating the electrical system. Half of the cottage was a living room – kitchen area, connected to the kitchen by a very large hole in the common wall. The rest of the house had three bedrooms, one of which was used as an office, the other as a guest room, aka the dog’s room.

The in-law apartment was almost done being refinished for rental to a “roommate”, i.e. tenant. The heat was currently off, and the only way the pipes were kept from freezing was by keeping the doors between the apartments open. The only items of value in the in-law were a few hand tools and assorted ‘antique’, more like junk, pieces of furniture Mum had stored down in the basement.

Once the windows were blacked out, Natog lit a few candles in the kitchen then hurriedly grabbed a plate to get his steak from the grill. While eating dinner at the table, Natog began jotting down ideas on what needed to be done, and when, if the power outage lasted for a long time.

Natog didn’t finish his list until well after dinner was finished, the dogs fed, and let outside again. The list was based on the idea that something knocked out the power, and it wasn’t coming on anytime soon. One item of note was to determine if the transformers were blown.

First things first, though. He went down to the basement and turned off the main breakers for his home and the in-law apartment. He also flipped off all the other breakers for the individual circuits in the house. This way if he hooked up the generator he wouldn’t power up anything outside the house and only what he specifically wanted.

The second item on the list was to consolidate his living area. He checked the windows in the spare bedroom, then closed the door to the spare room, and stuffed some old t-shirts he was going to cut up for rags under the door to stop drafts. He did the same for the office door after moving any computer equipment he had lying around.

Fighting off a yawn, Natog went out to the shed and grabbed a few buckets. While there he checked his generator and made sure he hadn’t forgotten to fill up any of the eight 5-gallon gas cans he had in the shed. One was half-full, but the rest were full and had been stabilized.

After locking up the shed and the door to the house behind him, Natog went down into the in-law apartments basement and shut off the water supply with a pair of vice grips. He then emptied the water in all the pipes by opening the main outlet in the basement and all the faucets upstairs. Bucket after bucket was emptied outside in the snow after he filled the bathtub in the inlaw apartment. As the pipes trickled dry, he left the drain open and a bucket to catch the last drops.

Turning his attention to the main part of the house, he filled the bathtub and another bucket with water. It must have been well past midnight when Natog let the dogs back in the house, and pulled his winter sleeping bag from the hall closet. After some deliberation he curled up on his bed with the dogs and fell quickly into a deep sleep.

* * *

He felt as if he just closed his eyes when Loki was barking in his ear to go out. Forgetting for a second what happened the day before, he crawled out of bed in his boxers to let the dogs out. He was halfway across the kitchen before the cold really sank in. Now that he was wide awake he hustled to let the dogs out then dived back under the warm covers.

His conscious wouldn’t let him fall back to sleep for long. Well, it was more of the dogs barking outside, but either way he hastily dressed, then ran around to warm up the clothes. It felt like it was 30 degrees in the house, but it couldn’t have been less than 50. Modern homes are too well insulated to drop in temperature that fast.

Natog stumbled into the kitchen still rubbing sleep from his eyes. Pulling back the sheet he stapled up in front of the back window, he saw it was about 8 am or so. The dogs were happily playing in some fresh snow from late last night, chasing each other around the back yard.

Firing up his stove he put on a frying pan to heat up and a kettle of water to boil. Shortly thereafter Natog had a hot breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage and hot cocoa. He cooked the whole packages of the bacon and sausage, and put the leftovers back in the fridge. He pulled a couple of frozen steaks out of the freezer and tossed them into the fridge to defrost for lunch and dinner. The defrosting steaks would help chill the fridge too.

He let the dogs back in, made sure they had water, and locked the back door. Suiting up, Natog went out into the bright sunshine.

It was clear and cold. A cold sun shone across the fresh snow. Kids were laughing and running through the neighborhood with the simple joy of a day off from school.

Natog turned south, and started walking towards the train station in the south of town. Trudging along the unplowed road, he waved at the few adults up and about. Most were shoveling out their driveways into the unplowed street. It was only about three inches of fluffy snow, but a few New England thaw-freeze cycles and it would turn into a sheet of ice.

After a half mile, Natog opened up his fleece to keep from sweating. After a mile, he took off the outer fleece pullover. As he approached the train parking lot, he was reassured by the sight of car tracks leaving the parking lot.

“At least I might not have to carry all of my crap back!” Natog said to himself as he rounded the corner and walked into the parking lot. Natog’s Cherokee was off by itself covered with snow. Thankfully, there were not footprints around his Jeep, and the snow looked undisturbed.
As he walked up, he mashed the remote button on the key fob repeatedly with no effect. Dusting the snow away from the seam for the door, he manually unlocked the door and opened it. A surge of relief passed through him as the interior light came on. Brushing out the snow that got sucked into the car when he opened the door, Natog jabbed the key in the ignition and turned it. The jeep started up first try. Natog cranked up the heat, and reached into the passenger side to grab the ice scraper.

He quickly cleaned off the car, and climbed in. Shifting into 4WD, the Jeep easily navigated its way through the parking lot. Out of the two hundred or so parking spots, only a dozen or so were empty. The rest looked untouched.

As he drove back along the unplowed roads with dark traffic lights, Natog scanned the radio. There were no broadcasts on either AM or the FM bands. It was nothing but the hiss of static. Popping in a CD, Natog made sure the radio was actually working. As Big Black blared out of the radio, Natog wondered what would take out the radio stations, but leave his car working.

The drive back was uneventful with the exception of occasionally stopping for kids sledding in the streets. Back at the house, Natog went into the garage workshop and moved the tools into half of the garage, so he could back the jeep into the garage. Natog had all of his tools on mobile bases for just such a purpose. Usually, it was for a vacation to Las Vegas or a fishing trip, normally he just parked outside so he could use the wood shop without moving all the tools every time.

With a sigh of relief, he locked up the garage. Having a working vehicle was a Very Big Deal. Turning from the garage door, he noticed the tire tracks leading to his garage. With a slump of the shoulders he grabbed his snow shovel and shoveled the driveway.

By the time he was done with that he was stripped down to a hat, gloves and a t-shirt. Hastily grabbing his sweaters and fleece, he scampered into the house. He carefully set the clothes out to dry and got a drink from the fridge.

Grabbing his list off of the table, he collapsed on the couch. As he relaxed and caught his breath, he ran through the list again. The next item would be to make sure his Mum and brother are ok. Mum and Bill recently got on board with prepping, but focused on weapons and had little in the way of food stores. Natog remembered warning them over and over, but Bill insisted that his friend in Maine would let the family go there and there would be plenty of food. Unable to make them see reason, Natog put up additional food for them by himself.

Throwing on a light sweatshirt, Natog went down into the basement. Using the stapler, he blocked out the windows in the basement with some scrap carpet. Turning on an LED lantern, Natog cleared out all the crap out of the way, including his weight set. Once there was room, he began pulling items from a recessed closet in the back of the basement. It took over an hour, but he pulled out all his food stores and laid them out for an inventory. As he inventoried what he had, he was kicking himself for not doing this earlier. Turns out he was desperately short on ketchup. Starting a list on a blank piece of paper entitled “Stuff I need”, the first item was “Ketchup!” in big letters.

Once his inventory was complete, he packaged up 10# of beans, 20# of rice, a package of hot cocoa, some granola bars, 10# of spaghetti, and two jars of spaghetti sauce into a plastic tote and brought it upstairs. He made note of the change of inventory, and then put all his food stores back into the closet. He packed as much as he could into plastic totes.

He bought a pallet of these totes from an auction years ago. They were from a stocking company, and were about 24 x 18 x 18 and were made of very heavy duty plastic. After selling enough to friends and family to pay for the pallet’s worth, he had about 10 left. They were sturdy enough to be filled with cans and carried, although they couldn’t be stacked on top of each other when that full. Natog made use of these when camping all the time, and was one of the best investments he made.

Natog brought the tote out to the Jeep, and added one of the 5 gallon gas cans from the shed. He made sure his toolbox was in the Jeep along with the Jeep’s BOB. The Jeep’s “bug out bag” had a pair of boltcutters, tow straps, a 2 ton come-along, funnel, hoses, bottle jack, hatchet and a set of extra fuses, wiring, etc. After thinking about it, he got one of his two spare tanks of propane out of the shed and used a strap to secure it and the gas can in the back of the jeep. Running back in the house, he grabbed a couple of 2 liter soda bottles filled with water from the freezer in the in-law apartment. He then went down to the basement and grabbed a package of toilet paper and a roll of paper towels. He brought all that to the jeep, and tossed it in the back.

Natog fired up his grill to warm up, and went back in the house to make some lunch. While eating lunch, he heated up a large pot of water. Turns out he still had water pressure. He then used water sparingly to do his dishes in a 5 gallon bucket. Filling the pot of water back up, he put it on the stove for later. After thinking about it for a second he filled all his large pots and put them on the stove.

Natog lived on top of a small hill. After he began prepping he figured that the sewer line would back up at the lowest points first, so he didn’t have to worry about that. But his water supply would go out first. Rather have to melt snow for water than have poop backing up in the house.

With a full belly, Natog bundled back up, grabbed his BOB and the aluminum little-league baseball bat by the door. He then shouldered his BOB and locked up the house. Loading the last of his stuff into the jeep, he fired it up and pulled out of the driveway.


madmaddy said...

More, More, More!!!! I got so hooked, I finished my coffee without relizing it!

Good stuff!

rfenney said...

Great stuff - Thanks!!!!

irishdutchuncle said...

any word from hollywood about who will play natog in the movie version?

theotherryan said...

I remember reading the first chapter awhile back. Noticed a new one on Mayberrys RSS feed and decided to get caught up. I am enjoying it a lot. Am I correct that some cars are working and others are not?