Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

bummer @ abate

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October 2014

    And what holiday occurs this month kiddies?

    Ya know, there are fine lines between terror and horror. I think terror is when something bad is happening and because of that, you freak out and lose it completely. Horror on the other hand (to me), is more the suggestion of something that might scare the hell outta you, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be real. Then there’s the horrific terror that has already been accomplished when people live in constant fear of bad guys who try to destroy our way of life through acts of sabotage. Of course these bad guys are called terrorists.

    Throughout most of the current generation our society has taken extreme precautions against terrorism at airports and other points of entry. So regarding terrorism from abroad, in many ways we’ve already been made fearful and the bad guys are accomplishing their primary goal.

    What we don’t fear from those outside our society, we fear from those within. Even our children’s school hallways are patrolled by armed guards. There are police with metal detectors at the entrances to most court houses and many government buildings. Our medicine and food containers are now safety-sealed, and even our plastic milk jugs are tamper-proof: you have to literally break the cap by twisting it open, and a peel-off seal under the cap further shows that the contents are pure and untouched. Fifty years ago we wouldn’t have even thought of such a thing! Who would want to mess with our milk?

    Yes, in the past few decades the America we old-timers once felt comfortable and safe living in has changed. Everyone is always on-guard now. Like, when was the last time you’ve even SEEN a hitchhiker? And I think the people who’d like to be able to hitch are just as afraid of getting picked up as you are of picking them up.

    Well, this is a Halloween horror story about an America that has really changed, and the total anarchy that might ensue in the not-so-distant future..................

“The Tribe”

    It was a dark and stormy night as Crazy rode to “The Well” to meet-up with a few of his people before they collected the rest of the bunch and moved on. “The Well” was the only bar still open in this one-horse town in the middle of nowhere. His group calls themselves the “Tribe” and they’ve been riding together cross-country for the past three years; ever since the bio-warfare disease that everyone calls “The Red Death” began killing people.

    It all started with the water sources back east, then it spread like wildfire. While mass communication was still available it was revealed that this pandemic disease began when mid-eastern terrorists (who proudly claimed responsibility) started dumping something in the many reservoirs that supplied drinking water to most of the big cities all across the nation. Then it morphed (as it was designed to) into a contagious plague spread by contact. As long as you didn’t drink “city” water or touch anyone, you’d be fine. But drinking contaminated water or even the slightest contact with the skin of an infected person would kill you in just a few days. And for the first day or so the infected ones walked around not even knowing they had it! Then a few hours before they died, their skin would flush, they’d turn a deeper red...and soon expire gasping for breath.

    As he pulled up to the bar’s parking lot, Crazy thought,
        ‘Damn! I told Mike not to park his trike out in the open like that!’

    Mad Mike rode an old Harley Servi-Car trike (one of two the Tribe had) that was rigged to carry over eighty gallons of gasoline, and he was supposed to keep it hidden from view when he wasn’t sitting on it. Even if the “Scavs” didn’t smell the gas, they might try to scrounge through the box looking for whatever they could find. But gas in particular had become VERY precious not only for travel, but also to fuel generators when the electrical grid shut down and the economy collapsed. Fuel (like everything else) was now only available through bartering or theft....and his people were very good at both.

    The Tribe began in the “good days” as a no-patch riding club, just a group of thirty or so friends who rode together just for the hell of it. Then, when the Red Death hit, the group came up with a plan: They’d leave Ohio and hit the road like gypsies, wandering cross-country looking for someplace where they could settle down and form a viable, safe and secure community to wait out the plague.

    Rumor was that an anti-toxin had been found: A cure. But if that rumor was true, so far it was only available to the elite few who held power and those deemed necessary to the damned government for the survival of the if there was any significance to that! The Red Death spread over the entire world in just the few months it took to understand what the hell it was and how it was spreading.

    Ordinary citizens soon became scavengers....and all of them carried guns. Large businesses disappeared when the dollar lost all value, but small shop-owners still existed here and there accepting gas, food, or other essentials as trade. Of course taverns were still around, but only if they were run by crafty owners who had connections to moonshiners and what was left of the liquor supplies stashed away in warehouses.

    The first people to die were the ones in the big cities. The terrorists were very thorough in the spreading of their poison to the water reservoirs all across the country. Those who couldn’t leave the cities eventually died of thirst drinking anything canned or bottled that contained water.

    They lived like animals scavenging and killing for bottled water, canned fruits, vegetables, soda, wine, and beer. But the food stores were soon emptied out, and many mid-eastern grocers and convenience store owners (who soon became the focus of vengeful hatred) were even drug from their stores by mobs and murdered horribly as others stood by and watched. Starving people have little empathy or sympathy for others.

    Farmers soon had to defend their farms and homes by any means they could. Even people in the little towns and townships who still used well-water began finding intruders forcing themselves in to steal water and whatever else they could find. If you knocked on the door of a friend’s house, that door was usually opened very carefully by that friend holding a shotgun until he recognized you. Then he’d nervously ask what you wanted before he’d let you in, if he even did.

    It was, and still is, such a mess.

    Within a year most farms and homes were empty because those who didn’t band together with others into some kind of large association, group, or gang, perished...either naturally or unnaturally.........

    Crazy strode into the dim bar and sat down in one of the many vacant booths. Then, after pulling out his road atlas, he had to stop and think for a moment to remember what state he was in before he recalled it was Montana.

    He thought to himself for the millionth time: ‘If those bastards that started all this would have only waited a few years, we’d have developed better and more practical solar and/or nuclear power. Maybe that’s why they did it when they did: because they knew that we were on the fast-track to developing other options, and oil was the ONLY thing they had to offer. And they knew THAT was soon going to be obsolete, so they hit us while we were still dependent upon it.
"Well you sure screwed up! Who’s gonna buy your oil NOW shitheads? And what would ya do with the bucks if we could? Sooner or later even your Shahs and Pashas will be eating camel and goat meat served on golden plates!’

    Then as he tried to turn his attention to the task at hand he spied hot little red-headed Jackie bent over an old Wurlitzer jukebox frantically pushing buttons. She might be tiny, but she had the guts to drive the OTHER trike full of explosive fuel...which was probably hidden away like it’s supposed to be.

            “Hey Jackie! Quit messin’ with that! You know the damn thing won’t work!”

    She walked over to him smiling as she replied,     “But it does! I heard it playing when we got here. It even has some Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks on it...and you know how much I like them! GOD how I miss recorded music. This thing’s gotta be run by the bar’s generator, but that damn bar-keep keeps messing with me and won’t tell me how to make it work!” (Ya see, nobody had any use for money anymore except for vending machines that weren’t rigged yet or couldn’t be easily broken into, and this one must be rigged.)

    Crazy turned his attention to his atlas again as he spoke as much to himself as to Jackie as she sat down,
            “Of course we’ll head southwest again like last year. At least it’ll still be warm there in a few months when the cold sets in here.”
Then he looked up and said to her,
            “And that’s where some of us should be right now, instead of all of us coming north to scrounge like the rest of the group wanted. Just because the pickings are easier up here doesn’t mean that at least some of us shouldn’t have stayed in the south looking for a home.”

    That first winter they stayed in Ohio. But that was back when there was still plenty of gas for generators and for chainsaws to cut firewood. Hell, some whole communities still had AC electricity!

    Jackie stated simply,
            “You look stressed.
       “I’ll be fine as soon as I figure out where we’re going.”
    He and Jackie have comfortably been the closest of friends since long before the plague when they both worked in the same place. After some brief conversation, they then gathered up the rest of the crew at the Well and left for where the remaining Tribe members were staying.

    That was a local state park campground which had everything they needed: clean hand-pumped well-water, relatively sanitary outhouses, fish to catch and game to hunt. Arriving, they were confronted with the aftermath of a commotion: Mad Mike’s kid had been attacked by a wild boar when she made a late-night visit to the john. “Doc”, who was formerly a medic in Iraq, quickly stitched her leg up and said she was good to go.

    Like most people, Crazy never knew (until he was told so by Doc), that within a few years in the wild a domesticated pig would physically change into a wild hog. It’s the weirdest thing! The male’s upper and lower canine teeth will actually grow and protrude up and out of his mouth turning into very sharp tusks, the animal will grow more lean and muscular, it’s hair will turn bristly, and it will turn VERY mean no matter how docile and friendly that same piggy might have been in the barnyard. This amazing ability to “de-evolve” and turn feral so quickly is how the species has survived and flourished throughout time. Here in the park many of them roam about, apparently having escaped from a nearby abandoned pig-farm and mingled with the ones who were already wild. Now just a few years later you could hardly tell the difference. Instead of being wiped out by wolves, they survive for three important reasons: they’ll eat ANYTHING, they live co-dependently within a social structure, and they’re smart.
       ‘We could learn from these bastards.’ thought Crazy the first time he saw a bunch of ‘em downing, goring, and devouring an elk after running it back and forth between them until the huge beast fell, exhausted.

    After the group decided on a destination and a route, they went to bed. The next morning, those who needed to gassed-up while the rest packed-up. Living on two or three wheels made it necessary to only carry the essentials, so it didn’t take long for either.

    The morning sun shone bright and the snowy mountain peaks in the distance were absolutely beautiful as Crazy led the pack roaring through the pines.
   ‘God! How I used to love this country! We sure had it made.’ he thought as the Tribe migrated on down the road to survival.


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