Quinn was disgusted. In fact, he was beyond disgusted.
Quinn was inspecting the troops deployed along Iosco Road near the southern end of the buffer strip, some would say speed-bump, he had been tasked with defending.
Quinn had learned that troops deliver to expectations. And that they learn what is expected of them based on what their leaders inspect.
Starting out, Quinn wasn’t inspecting chicken-shit. He was inspecting the basics of running a safe, healthy camp and training program.
Quinn had been drawn to John Galt’s troops because, well, because of his absenteeism problems.
Quinn had opened the door of the outhouse when the stench of human shit assailed him. Some of that was expected. The slimy, brown material on his hand was not. Somebody had smeared human excrement on the door handles of the outhouse, in defiance of hand-washing rules and the most basic of human standards of hygiene.
“GALT! Get your ass over here!” Quinn yelled.
Galt double-timed over to the latrine.
“What is this?” Quinn asked as he held his hands directly under Galt’s nose.
“Um, shit?” Galt said, visibly shaken.
“No wonder a third of your troops are out with dysentery.” Quinn said.
Quinn shook his head in disgust.
“I swear to God, Spackle, that latrine was clean last night.” Galt said.
Quinn kept shaking his head. He had over-estimated Galt’s leadership ability. He had fought with Galt against the first blast of refugees during the Ebola pandemic. He had watched Galt grow by leaps-and-bounds in maturity.
Obviously, Quinn had allowed emotion and feeling so loyalty to over-ride the facts of the situation. Maybe Galt could step up, maybe he couldn’t. Quinn needed a strong leader on the south end of their line to anchor it, and right now Galt did not look like he was that leader.
It was going to be a brutal winter if Galt’s five squads had the johnny-trots. Keeping winter clothing clean and dry was difficult in the field even under the best of conditions. It was impossible when the wearer had uncontrollable diarrhea.
Not only would they be unable to keep up with the training rotation, they would be field ineffective if the balloon went up.
The owner of the general store in Monticello, Indiana was carrying nearly half the families “on the book”. He saw a way to kill two birds with one stone.
“I have a couple of men who owe me a favor” He told Steve and Walt.
“There is still a lot of riff-raff out there looking for easy pickings” the man said “and I would appreciate it if you let them ride with you for today.”
“Why would you do that?” Walt asked.
“Well, for one thing, it clears some of their debt. If they go too long without making a payment they might get forgetful, if you know what I mean” the storekeeper said. “The other thing is that I want to be on your list as one of the ‘good guys’ when the railroad comes through. One hand washes the other, so to speak.”
Steve was not going to turn down an armed escort.
The two men brought camping gear and made their own camp when the twenty-five miles left the expedition just a few miles short of Goodland, Indiana.
The twenty-five miles took longer than six hours because the expedition stopped for twenty minutes for each small town it hit. Steve and Sally had refined her A-through-Z list of commodities but in many cases stuck with the ones that she had first chosen. One thing was clear, there would be a lot of customers for coal based on the price of firewood.
Another thing that had quickly jumped out was that there was a screaming demand for work-boots. There was no shortage of decorative footwear but day-to-day life had become physically more demanding. People who had never done anything more physical than lift up a sack of quarter-pound hamburgers were spading gardens, picking rocks, hauling multiple buckets of water every day, cutting and hauling firewood...the tasks were endless and none of them were easy.
“I have to share with you, Tory, that one of the things that I like about you is that you Hawks are practical, problem-solving people” Dot told Tory.
“Why, thank-you ma’am” Tory said. “What brings that to mind?”
“If we get into a shooting war and we use this plane for spotting, people are likely to notice” Dot said. “This plane can do some amazing things, but flying fast is not one of them.”
“We need to figure out how to make this plane invisible and as quiet as a ghost. And, if push comes to shove, it would be nice if we could shoot back” Dot said.
“Can’t we just open a window and shoot at them...like the gangbangers and drive-by shooters?” Tory asked.
Dot believed the best way to teach was to ask questions. “How fast can the Zenith fly?”
Tory sighed and parroted back “Cruising/maneuvering speed of 78 mph with a do-not-exceed speed of 110 mph.”
Dot said “A Cessna 172 can fly about 150 mph. If we are flying at each other and we have a maximum range of 150 yards, how much time do you have to stick your hand out the window and shoot?”
Tory groaned “Math is hard.”
Dot was unmoved. “Use 1.47 to convert from miles per hour to feet per second.”
For a minute the only sounds were the scratching of a pencil on paper. “I get about 1.2 seconds” Tory said.
“That sounds about right” Dot said. “What are the odds of you being able to pull a pistol out of a holster, stick it out the window, aim and hit a moving target...in less than 1.2 seconds?”
Tory saw her point.
“So what is the answer?” Tory asked.
“I think a couple of machine guns would look right at home beneath the wings, don’t you?” Dot asked.