Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Second Act (fiction)


Milo was awakened by somebody tapping on the sole of his boot.

Gimp had fighters sleeping on a two-hour rotation. They slept at the ambush site in the event that things happened suddenly. Sleeping at the ambush site also reduced the fighters’ vulnerability to hostiles infiltrating and slitting throats.

Squinting up at the sun, Milo judged it was almost noon. He could hear the groaning of truck transmissions and the hiss of tires on the pavement.

Milo looked over at Gimp. “Same plan as last time.” Gimp said.

The convoy came into view as they rounded the bend two miles east of the ambush. Gimp glassed the group of trucks and grunted.

“Looks like they have two tanks, one in the front and one for the caboose.” Gimp said. The tall dump trucks were easy to identify.

A few seconds later, Gimp announced, “And they have at least four flatbeds.”

Gimp had plenty of time to make adjustments. At 25 mph it took the convoy over four minutes to cover the intervening two miles.

Gimp put the AR-10s on the driver’s side and tasked with stopping the tanks. He even had “extra” shooters set up for the flat-beds in case he had miscounted.

The last three minutes as they waited for the convoy to get into the kill-basket seemed to take forever.

Unbeknownst to the ambushers, there had been radio chatter. The tanks drove by video camera and did not have the long distance acuity of the Mark I eyeballs in the flat-beds. Consequently, the tank drivers did not see the missing convoy.

Ordinarily, the tanks would have blocked the down-road view from the flat-beds, but the three rearmost flat-beds were able to look up the road when the lead tank started dropping down into the West Branch valley.

The flat-beds chattered among themselves and the new quartermaster back at HQ took notes.

*

Luck counts, but only fools count on luck.

The double armor in front of the tank driver was sufficient to stop even the upgraded, harden steel armor-piercing ammo fired from the AR-10.

Jimmy and Gabe poured fire into the steel plate protecting the drivers of their respective tanks. They were confident that the drivers were being shredded.

The experience of being in an armored vehicle that is under fire from AP ammo is similar to having a trash-can over your head and having somebody beat it with a golf club.

Except, in a trash-can, you don’t look over and see your shotgun’s head explode.

The driver’s floored the gas pedal and attempted to accelerate out of the ambush.

The lead tank was successful.

The caboose was not. He was tangled up in the disabled flat-beds.

Pedal-to-the-medal, the lead tank...the one with all of the ammunition for the relief of the fighters on the line...continued to accelerate until the governor kicked in at sixty mph.

The driver was human. We see what we are looking for. He was not helped by the coarse resolution of his viewing cameras, nor was he helped by the orientation and depth of field. One was too shallow, the other too deep.

The driver was not expecting a gap in the pavement where the freeway crossed Doan Creek. Even if it was a possibility, he would have been distracted by the incoming small-arms fire from his right side.

It takes a vehicle traveling sixty miles per hour approximately a third of a second to travel thirty feet. In that time the front bumper bar dropped 18 inches.

The truck’s sudden encounter with the western bridge abutment was not survivable. The ammunition intended for the fighters was scattered across a quarter acre and the bottom of Doan Creek.

*

The driver of the caboose tank tried manfully to extricate his vehicle from the tangle of flat-beds. He half-consciously registered that the firing from the belt-fed weapon in the box behind him had stopped firing, whether from malfunction, skosh on ammo or dead gunners, he did not know.

AP fire directed at the windshield and where the door windows had been remained ineffective.

With Jimmy’s target out of range, he added his fire to Gabe’s. On a hunch, he started punching rounds through the body of the door about six inches below the window.

That quickly sealed the deal as the truck stopped jacking into forward and reverse.

Once again, Gimp sent a crew down to move the trucks up the freeway.

“Why are you doing that?” Jimmy asked. “They have to know about us now.”

“It is a matter of denying the enemy any cover they might use.

Jimmy looked east over the burned half mile leading up to the I-96 bridge crossing West Branch. They might get pushed off the Wallace Road overpass but it would not be cheap for anybody trying to do it.

*

Ninety minutes later, another convoy was ready.

They were running out of tanks. There was only one in the lead. The new quartermaster recognized the voice of the driver who had radioed in and identified him as the lead tank.

The quartermaster erroneously deduced that the lead tank was the most effective.

The tank and four more flat-beds did not take I-96. Rather, they moved west on Mason Road.

The lead tank went into the West Branch river when the driver did not recognize the fact that the bridge was missing. The crew manning the machinegun in the back of the tank were flung against the front of the box. Just looking at how they were sprawled, raggedy-Anne style, told the other drivers that everybody in the tank was dead.

The first flat-bed was almost able to stop and was high-centered with the front wheels dangling over an eight-foot drop.

Truckers are truckers. They had tow straps. The were able to pull the lead flat-bed back from the abyss.

Lacking armor support, the surviving trucks headed back to HQ.

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4 comments:

  1. Why was there a gap in the pavement on the Doan creek bridge? Was that a failed attempt to drop it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. The successful attempt to drop it.

      You drive at speed with more faith than you realize. Lots of people drive off the edge of collapsed structures simply because we don't expect that kind of total failure to occur. The problem is really bad at night. Essentially everyone overdrives their headlights.

      As noted in the story, looking through a poor quality camera doesn't help responsiveness.

      Delete
  2. I believe they were successful in dropping a section of the bridge, which resulted in a thirty foot 'gap' in the pavement.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nicely done! And yes those sudden stops aren't good for the human cargo!

    ReplyDelete