Preview of "The Prepper Part Two: Kings" Text coming summer 2015
The Prepper Part Two: Kings
Karl A.D. Brown
Format and content subject to change by Author
Coming Summer 2015
Copyright Karl A. D. Brown all rights reserved
Alfred and Candice
Alfred “Alfie” Aimes sat in his cabin in the woods watching his son sleep. It had been two months since Robert had been shot while the family was trying to get to their bug out location. The young man had mended slowly and was just getting most of his mobility back. Even with his injuries, Alfred knew that his son had worked hard to pull his weight around the Rabbit Hole. There were no slackers around their hideaway homestead. There was always a lot to do, and their lives could not accommodate that anymore. But Alfred could tell that his family was beginning to actually thrive. It was good to be self-sufficient. There was a sense of pride around the hide out.
It was early morning and he was going hunting. He was hoping to get one more deer to round out their food supply with some fresh meat. Candice was up and ready to go. His wife was going to re-organize their main pantry. They had begun to realize that they had not arranged their supplies as well as they should have when they first stocked everything, back in the calm before the storm. There were certain things they used every day versus stuff that they only rarely used. That rarely used stuff needed to be placed in the back of their storage compartments. He didn’t know how long he and his daughter would be gone, but he was sure he would find his wife still at it when he came home.
Candice had gotten up early and had already eaten breakfast and made a cup of tea. She was ready to go. Her Ruger Hawkeye was slung over her shoulder, and she was dressed in a white and brown camo outfit that would help her to blend into her surroundings. She was looking forward to this hunt. It was always a treat to go out with Dad. It was an interesting time for the children; their generation had grown up glued to their cellphones and iPads, and now they were essentially living in a 19th century world.
It meant a less sedentary lifestyle. Life took on an immediacy that they had never really experienced before, and the Aimes family realized that they were actually relishing it. The family had grown closer than they had ever been before. There was more communication, and they shared important chores like hunting for meat.
Alfred went into to the small room in the back, took one look at his sleeping wife and left the little log cabin with his daughter. He was a man of medium height. He was now a solidly built 160 pounds. Before everything had gone bad he was 20 pounds heavier, but living like a pioneer made him shed the excess weight. He was dressed in camo like his daughter. He also carried a Hawkeye over his shoulder. Father and daughter trudged off into the woods in the wee hours of the morning. They were happy.
Alfred had made a few tree stands at strategic points on his land. This time he decided to try the one that was just inside the tree line. It overlooked a small meadow at the northeastern end of his property. It had snowed pretty well the day before, and now they walked through six inches of new powder. He had seen a lot of deer tracks down by the meadow in the past week. Alfi couldn’t help wondering what he would be doing on a Saturday in the old world before the Collapse. Probably dropping off the kids at their friends and then making a trip to the supermarket. No matter how hard he tried not to think of his old life, he just could not help it. There was just no way to turn off 45 years.
They reached the stand and Candice went up first. She dropped the rope down, and he sent up their rifles. He then went up himself. It was a great tree stand. He figured it was the best one he had built. It was just big enough for two, and the tree had two sturdy branches that allowed him to hammer in a floor so they could sit. He secured them in and they sat down to wait. Candice had not gotten a deer yet, and she was full of hope. There was no awkwardness between them. It was actually comforting to sit with each other in total silence, listening to the song of the woods around them.
Alfred marveled at the peacefulness he felt. This is what modern man had been missing, he thought. We had been so caught up in being busy, we forgot what really mattered. As he listened to the leaves of the trees rustle, he could just barely hear the tinkle of the stream that flowed through their land. He sighed and breathed in air that was crisp and sweet. For a while father and daughter were at peace in a very serious time. That’s what nature could give, the gift of a moment’s rest from the horrors of the world.
There was movement and Alfred watched in fascination as his daughter shifted quickly and silently into a shooters crouch. She rested the barrel of the rifle on one of the security beams he had installed. He saw her smile as she watched the small herd of deer walk gingerly into the meadow. He also went into a crouch, but he would give her the first shot and if she missed, he would take his. He heard his daughter breathe out and knew she was picking her target with the scope. Then there was a single sharp crack. The herd turned and bolted but one deer fell after two strides.
Pride surged in Alfred’s heart. It was a pride any hunter would know, that feeling of excitement when their child joined the ranks of the hunters that had bagged their own meat since times long ago. He understood the age-old pride and sense of accomplishment. They waited in the tree stand another twenty minutes to see if her shot had attracted any attention. Normally they would have gone to the fallen animal immediately, but these were dangerous times. After their wait, they quickly and quietly descended the tree and went over to their kill. It was time to dress the deer.
Alfred and Candice slipped on gloves and got to work, the father instructing his child in the proper way to clean the animal, a skill that was dying out before the Collapse. He remembered how disconnected people were from their food, including his own family. Everything they ate had been bought at the store. Alfred had never really paid any attention to where his food came from, something he regretted sorely now. He and Samantha were planning on planting a small garden to grow fresh vegetables in the spring, and they were seriously worried about how to go about it since they had only a limited supply of knowledge and seeds.
He showed his daughter how to roll the animal on its back, then he started at the tail and cut his way up the body to the chin, being careful not to knick the organs. He wished he had a small axe and a hammer to break the chest. He then removed the heart, lungs, and windpipe, then cut around the anus and pushed it gently towards the body, pulling the intestines and colon out. After he removed all the organs he skinned the animal and wrapped it up in the tarp, which he would pull back to the homestead.
Candice was excited. She couldn’t wait to tell Robert about getting her deer. She knew that as soon as Robert could walk properly he would be going out, but she had one-upped him on this hunt and was proud of herself. ‘I field dressed a deer for heaven’s sake.’ The two of them pulled the load back to the cabin. As they were going by a small storage shack Alfred had made, he asked her to get the butchering knives and meet him by the house.
Alfred’s head was down as he dragged the tarp to the cabin. He didn’t see the signs until it was too late. When he noticed the human tracks leading up to the cabin, his heart knocked against his ribs and he suddenly felt cold all over. He dropped the tarp and was about to reach for his .45 when the sneering voice cut through the cold winter air. “I wouldn’t if I were you. Jessie and Birdman, show this idiot what we got so he won’t make any stupid mistakes.”
A huge monster of a man dragged Samantha out of the cabin by her hair. Alfred gasped. He could see that she was badly beaten. The man threw her on the ground and placed a foot on her back. “Sam!” Alfred yelled.
“Yeah, we also got your boy in the back. Now you drop that weapon nice and slow now.”
Alfred’s world spun out from under him for a second. He could have kicked himself for being so careless. There were two guns pointed at him, and he knew that he didn’t have a choice. They had the edge here. He slowly drew the weapon out of his holster and placed it on the ground. The two men laughed, and the tall man that had been standing on his porch came down and picked up the gun. Without any other warning he swung his shotgun around and hit Alfred across the face. The pain was blinding, and as he fell to his knees the man began kicking him mercilessly. Before he blacked out Alfred cold hear Sam screaming his name.
She was happy. She had spent the morning with her father and the hunt had gone well. She was getting the plastic container that held the butcher knives when she heard her mother scream. A chill went through her. She dropped the container and snatched her rifle from beside the shack’s door. Before she could run up to the house, everything Dad had taught her snapped into play. They had run countless drills on what to do if someone surprised them in the cabin. Her father was a very careful planner; he had made countless contingency plans for such a scenario. The first thing she had to do was to establish that there was a threat. She circled around the house in an arc, sticking to the dense tree line. Eventually she saw the tracks and stopped. She could see the front of the cabin now and watched the man drag her father’s inert body into the house. She saw the other man slap her mother, banging her head into the wall of the small front deck. He then shoved her inside and closed the door.
This was very bad. Suddenly despite the cold she felt a bit hot in her camo. She understood that this scenario was one they had talked about, but never thought they would have to deal with. It was hard to find the cabin, and they had been careful, but obviously not careful enough. She then made a couple of circles around the house in wider arcs until eventually she found a small fire and a crude canvas tent. The men must have come in during the snow last night and camped here. Her family had been inside during the worst of it, and the cabin had gone undetected by the campers. All the men had to do was to walk straight ahead 400 yards to get to the cabin. She figured that they had not seen them leave but probably stumbled on it after she had left with her dad. They probably waited and surprised Mom when she came out to do the early chores.
It was fortuitous that she was not with her father at the time. She also knew that her family would not tell the truth about who was outside the home. That was also in the plan. She picked a spot far back from the house and hunkered down to watch. Eventually they would all have to use the outhouse. After a few hours of watching, she ascertained that there were 3 men and that they appeared heavily armed. Finding the Rabbit Hole was a big score and their resources were something the men would kill for. She had no doubts about that. Around noon she saw her mother open the curtains in the front and knew that the one in the back would also be open as well.
This was something they would never do normally, but she knew that her mother wanted to create an unobscured view into the home. She had seen enough. The next phase of the plan had to go into place. She pointed her rifle in the air and fired a single shot, then melted into the trees. Her dad had dug a few spider holes around the house perimeter. In them he had stashed food, water, blankets, and a few boxes of extra ammunition. The wind began to pick up again, and the snow started coming down in blinding sheets. She crawled into one of the spider holes. If they were good enough to track her in the storm, she would see them coming and knew how to use her rifle very well.
When it was dark enough, she checked her rifle and went out into the snow storm. Even in the blizzard she knew unerringly where to go. Her father had made her count the amount of steps to the first container a thousand times. She squatted in the snow and used the scope as a monocular. The front window was lit by a soft glow. She could see a man sitting at the table.
She went around to the back of the house, where there was another door and a window through which should could see the inside of their parents’ master bedroom. What she saw through the monocular appalled her. Her mother had been tied face down to the bed, and one of the men was on top of her. Candice turned her face away as a rage white-hot and pure coursed through her. She knew she was going to kill the intruders in the house. She could not see her father or her brother and prayed they were okay.
There were three bullets in the rifle. She knew who her first target was going to be. Steeling herself, she leaned the rifle on the low branch of a tree and waited for the shot. The man got up and stretched, scratching himself. The rifle popped, the window smashed in, and one bullet took his left eye and his life. Candice then ran around to the front of the house. She could no longer see the man who had been by the table in the front room. Very carefully she edged back to the side of the house by the outhouse. Her father had stashed a stack of wood there under a tarp to keep it dry, and he had said, “If we ever get separated and if someone has any of us inside the house, light this stack of wood if you can. In the night, no one will know who is out there. For all they know it will be marauders or cannibals trying to break in, or burn them out. Hell, burn the goddamn outhouse down if you need a distraction, and do what you have to do to kill the intruders in our house.”
Candice, in her rage, took this advice from her father very literally. She went into the shed she had left this morning and took the small gas can. She poured some of its contents onto the wood pile and lit the match. It didn’t take long before the wind whipped the flames up, despite the snow, and in just a matter of a few minutes she had a bright blazing fire roaring. It cast an eerie glare around the cabin and she knew that the men in the lodge must have been going out of their minds trying to figure out what was happening outside. Then she did something utterly insane. Grabbing one of the burning logs by its safe end, she threw it through the front window. The response inside was immediate. When a man popped up to toss it back through the window, a bullet ended his life.
Then Candice saw something through her scope that made her catch her breath. She saw that two men were struggling. She couldn’t quite understand at first what she was witnessing, but it became clearer as she tweaked her scope. Her dad was using the rope they had tied his hands with like a garrote. He had the rope around the man’s neck and was twisting his hands together to tighten the rope, cutting off the man’s air supply. The man had his shotgun in his hands and he tried using it to swat at his assailant. Candice saw her dad take a few good whacks to the head but he was not going to let go. Then the two men fell to the floor, and after what seemed an interminable wait there were two loud bangs from what sounded like a 12 gauge. She still could not see anything and her heart was in her throat as she waited to see who would stand up. A figure came into view and he waved his hands. Candice gasped in relief, “Ohh Dad,” and then she began to cry.
William Diefenbacher, known as Splinter to his acquaintances, was a small-time hood before the Collapse. After the economy tanked and the world descended into chaos, his fortune rose as others went up in flames. Diefenbacher was a small and wiry man, pale with limp brown hair and flat blue eyes that left no doubt that he was crazy. He had made his living making and distributing methamphetamines, and he had been in the process of carving out a name for himself when things went south.
Always being a paranoid fellow he had almost instinctively done what other prudent folks had done; he had stocked his New York apartment with food, guns and lots of ammunition. Luck had always been on his side because he never got caught. He was ruthless in the way he conducted business, and one man’s life meant no more to him than crushing a cockroach in his kitchen. When things crashed he reached out to a few of the street gangs that he had done business with, and after killing their leaders he had assumed control. In two months he had three hundred well-armed foot soldiers working for him.
While other gangs were still thinking about territory and drugs, Splinter understood that the world as we all knew it was over. There was no coming back from this one. It was going to be a new canvas, and he intended to paint it in his image. So in the first few days when other more well-established gangs were still fighting over the products they pushed and the territory they controlled, Splinter had set his people to stockpiling food and as much guns and ammunition as they could. And then he waited.
When New York began to burn, and the established gangs and crime families fought each other, he carefully went about drilling his men into well-organized teams. If anyone was suspected of divulging the group’s secrets they were immediately dispatched upon his orders. No one in his original group had any family or connections; he chose them carefully that way. He intended to survive, because he was really excited by the opportunities the new world could give a person like him. His group was well-armed, fed and trained. Soon he began to target the other gangs. His vision of assuming complete control of New York City demanded that he act systematically and brutally.
What he had was a small army, and he began to wage open and organized warfare within the city. Borough by borough, he assumed control. Splinter understood the situation better than his peers. He understood that the lack of food, water and resources would cripple the opposition. He knew that the National Guard maintained its ring of steel around the city so that no one could get in or out easily, and that worked to his advantage. He had the guns and the ammunition, and that was what mattered. He took from the gangs and the people of the city and stockpiled more food and guns.
Four months after the Collapse, because of how quickly and decisively he had moved, he was the undisputed crime lord of New York City. The next phase of his plan came into place, and he ruthlessly made the survivors understand that the world had changed. The USA was no more, and he was the man in charge. He offered to take any man or woman who would fight in his army, as long as they were single and childless. He was looking beyond New York City, and he wanted to take as much as he could.
When the ring of steel around New York City finally crumbled, his army went out to plunder and to make New York their own. They had a charismatic and shrewd leader, and they followed him willingly because they knew he was special. Splinter and his lieutenants went about the systematic conquering of New York in a campaign reminiscent of medieval times. They had pretty much rolled over every small town they had encountered. As his territory extended further into the heart of Central New York, he made sure that the locals understood in no uncertain terms who was in charge.
Splinter understood that if he was going to realize his dream, he would have to make sure that his territory was peaceful, organized and productive. He also understood a basic fact; he had to keep his people in serfdom. That meant there was no hurry to bring back modern technology and conveniences. The only technology he was interested in was the technology that kept him in power. He restarted gun and bullets manufacturing. Metal and the refining of oil was a top priority. His army needed to keep on the move. The way he figured it, he needed to get his soldiers through the winter as best as he could. He needed a buffer between himself and the rest of Central New York. So he expended a lot of resources to take strategically valuable land close to his power base in Middletown, NY.
It was amazing the toll the Collapse had taken on the population. In the months following the disaster, a good portion had died of starvation. But that was not the only killer. Diseases, aided by bad sanitation practices, whipped through the villages and towns. And then there was the influenza outbreak that was still taking lives. In a world where the manufacturing of prescription drugs had ceased, and the wholesale destruction of the medical profession had taken place, people died of simple ailments that normally they would have survived. There was no way to know what strain of the influenza virus was moving relentlessly through the population.
It wasn’t just the United States that had suffered this mortal blow. Canada was also in flames. Central and South America had become a dark zone with no real news coming out of their sovereign countries. Europe had been poleaxed. The English had abandoned their Prime Minister and the royal family had been reinstated. Even now the average man in the street could not understand how it had all gone so bad so fast. The English needed someone to rally behind as they sank into their medieval existence, and so a King was back in charge.
The English and Canadian preppers had done all they could to protect and prepare for the bad times, but the odds were against even these intrepid people that had made it through the horrible first five months and were now facing one of the worst winters on record with dwindling supplies.
No country in the world escaped. Money had no value, and goods to trade were scarce. In a world that had become very dependent on its technology, the pyramid scheme humanity had been playing with the gods of fate came crashing down. In five months the world lost half of its population, and the brain drain that resulted ensured that all humanity was firmly back to a 19th century existence. It would take generations to regain all the knowledge that had been lost. The world had been fundamentally changed forever.
Splinter had always felt that he was special. He had always watched those documentaries on Hitler and Stalin and felt that he had the stuff. As a boy he would play in his father’s backyard with his toy soldiers, moving his armies about. His father had been cruel and in turn he became cruel himself. His mother had spent most of her time living in abject fear of her husband; she was cowed, and Splinter was beaten. By the time Splinter was fifteen he was a thin and lanky terror whose classmates were relieved when he dropped out of school. It wasn’t because he was stupid; on the contrary Splinter read every day and everything he could get his hands on, especially history. He came to think that the only people who truly mattered were the people who made their fortunes themselves. It didn’t matter how the wealth was made. Only a fool did not take a chance for self-liberation.
He saw nothing wrong in making money illegally and had tried many different ways until he settled on making meth. Anyone who saw him would have thought that he partook of the stuff himself, but that was not the case. He was a prudent businessman. There was another interesting anomaly about the man; he really had no interest in sex. He really didn’t care one way or the other about it, and so there was no one he loved, no ties, and for him that was part of being liberated.
Today, one that had turned out to be extremely cold, he was a bit hot under the collar. There was something in the way the objective had been achieved that left him dissatisfied. He had taken to wearing a white suit with gold epaulettes and black military style boots. On the right side of the jacket the insignia of his army, a golden dove, was sewn. No one called him Splinter to his face anymore. All his soldiers referred to him as Captain. The people he governed called him the Dove. Buckled around his waist was a sword in a black sheath. His headquarters were located in the large waiting room of the Middletown’s municipal building.
When his army had rolled into Middletown, they had met very little resistance. His scouts had told him that much. He knew before they got into the small city that most of the residents were dead or had left when the flu began picking off the survivors. The ones that had stayed behind had slowly banded together and had managed to stay alive by hunting or cannibalism. His men were bringing the two leaders of the Middletown group in to see him now. He sat behind the huge dark red cherry desk, adjusting his sword and trying to calm himself.
Four of his men dressed in army fatigues came into the hall. They flanked the two stinking unwashed men in the middle. Both men were so dirty that it was really hard to tell them apart. Their beards and hair had grown long and tangled, and they had carved tattoos into their foreheads and cheeks. Splinter quickly took in the two men, and with a glance, he realized that there was no fear in them. They were not armed and carried themselves with the air of utter fearlessness. When his army had got into the city, they were not attacked. The people had known that they were coming and had kept out of sight. There was no way to fight these organized men with weapons. As far as Splinter was concerned these two men were here to listen to his orders and accept his rule.
One man stepped forward and said, “My name’s Jerry and his is James. We don’t run things in this city, but we speak for the man who does.”
“What’s this man’s name?”
“We are not hear to answer questions. We are here to give you a message. You are to pack up and get your men out of here. This is our town, and you and your kind are not welcome.” The one named James, a bigger, smellier and uglier version of the other said, “Our boss said that you are all welcome to stay if you let us have all your food and leave a few of your men behind, so that we can have us a—”
In a flash Splinter was out from behind the table, and in a move that surprised even his own men he drew his sword. James’s head went flying from his shoulders. “Crucify him.” He pointed to Jerry who was looking at James’ corpse, a look of genuine surprise on his face. The big man turned and slammed a fist into one of the guards. He pulled a knife and stabbed another guard in the throat, before one of Splinter’s men slammed the butt of a gun into his temple. He crumpled beside his headless friend.
Later on that night the man’s shrill screams of agony could be heard all around the city square. He had been mounted on a tree in the park. On express orders he was tied upright onto the tree, and ten inch spikes were driven through his arms, spread above his head. The same thing was done to his feet. The order coming from the Dove was that he was to be kept alive and alert for as long as possible, and they did just that for two days. Then he gave orders to send out squads of ten heavily armed men, and any prisoners they caught they were to hang from the other trees around the square. In five days there were ten people howling and screaming for mercy. On each of the trees, large signs were hung asking the leader of the Middletown survivors to come in and kneel and so spare the rest of his people. After ten days and twenty more crucifixions, a man finally came in to see Splinter. He wore dirty jeans and a heavy black coat. He fell on his knees but did not beg.
“My name is Gregory. They call me their leader. Why have you crucified these people?”
His questions rankled Splinter. He was supposed to be begging. It was not enough for Splinter that he was here; he needed this man broken. So he had the man bound to a table and a hot poker was brought along with some coals in a brazier.
Splinter started with the man’s toes. With extreme care he touched each one with the red poker, and he could hear the skin sizzle. The man began screaming after he started on the bottom of the soles. Splinter began to enjoy himself when the man began to babble and his breath began to hitch in his throat. He touched the tip of the poker to the man’s eye and as his eyeball began to sizzle, the man began crying out for mercy. Just then a commander of his personal body guard came in with an important message.
“There is a man outside, Captain, who said that he needs to talk to you. He says that he is from Albany.”
“Can it wait? I am in the middle of something right now,” he said as he raised the poker. He was about to take the other eye out. The man was straining and gasping, trying in vain to get away from the instrument of torture.
“He looks kind of important. Says his name is Lambert. I swear Captain, you need to see this guy. He looks like he is still working for the Feds. Black suit, tie and all. He says he is here to offer you a pretty good deal.” This got Splinter’s attention and he dropped the poker back into the brazier.
“Cut him loose.” Two of his personal body guards cut the ropes binding the man to the table. They stepped in front of their captain to protect him from the man who could possibly attack him, but they didn’t need to. The man prostrated himself on the ground and said, “Thank you for my life. We will do as you wish.”
“You and your people are now under the control of the People’s Militia. We will spend the winter here in this town, which is now my town. Then in the spring we will march north and we will bring the rest of the state under my command. Because of your stupidity I will not help your people through the winter. You will do what you need to survive. If you harm any of my men, we will hunt you all down. There are a lot of hanging trees between here and Binghamton. I will also burn this city to the ground. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“You will not call me sir. I am your lord and master. You will call me My Lord. I like the sound of that. My Lord.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
“Good. Now get out of here. If you or your people give me cause to doubt your felicity you will regret the day you were born.”
Two guards escorted the weak, trembling man from the small room. Splinter then went to look at himself in a small mirror in the bathroom. He looked a frightful mess. His hair was matted to his forehead and his uniform looked grubby. He decided he would change before seeing this Lambert fellow from Albany. It was good that he had broken the people in this settlement. The survivors of the winter would be an addition to the troops in the spring. He guessed that they would be very grateful to the man who would give them fresh clothes and real food. They would find a place in his army, and they would be willing to fight for him. Yes, he nodded to himself in the mirror, things were beginning to come together.