Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Shrewd King 16.3: Stop the bleeding

Wade had always dreamed of hunting out west or up in Canada. He had grown up reading stories by Jack O’Connor and Elmer Keith.

Like most folks, he went to work and raised a family. He never had the time or money for any of those North American safaris.

He kept the dream alive by buying a gun that was not very practical. He bought a Winchester .270, bolt action rifle before the burdens of being a family man dragged him down.

He took it to the Upper Peninsula when he went deer hunting. The .270 was borderline too much gun for even the big whitetails they called swamp-donkeys.

Wade believed in shooting. He believed is shooting frequently and he believed in shooting the same load that he intended to use for moose or elk or grizzly bears should he ever get the chance. To make that happen, Wade reloaded ammo. That was the only way he could afford to shoot 500 rounds of Barnes TSX ammo a year.

A stout load of H-4350 gave him 3100 feet-per-second at the muzzle.

The notable thing about the TSX projectile is that it is machined from copper billet rather than swedged from lead alloy. Lead alloy is soft. It has a tensile strength of about 2000 PSI. Copper, on the other hand, has a tensile strength of 75,000 PSI after it has been work-hardened.

The bullets Wade was firing at the armored car were punching holes through the armor and caused the occupants to abandon it in haste. Not only was the copper slug bouncing around the interior but the brittle steel spalled off the inside surface and contributed to the mayhem.

Moving to another position, so he could shoot the bus end-to-end, Wade started launching bullets at the bus. It, too, quickly emptied. They all ran into Kate’s store and started returning fire.

Wade radioed Tim “Do we have permission to blow the building?”

Tim said, “I haven’t been able to get ahold of Kate. Everybody keeps stepping on transmissions.”

On a separate channel, Chernovsky said “Blow the building.”

That was good enough for Tim as “skippers” were whining overhead.

“We have permission. Blow the building.” Tim said.

“Crap. I am getting too old for this shit.” Wade said. He handed his rifle to his neighbor, Tom. He edged back from the firing line, bend over and started trotting to the east where low ground would shield his approach.

Tom and Mike offset fifty yards to the east and started peppering the building to keep the hostiles honest.

The problem was that Wade had only brought forty rounds of his moose and tank killer ammo and the rifle was slow to reload. Mike brought three, thirty round magazines of 5.56mm so he was in better shape but he still needed to conserve by only shooting at flesh-and-blood targets.

The other complication was that the clacker for detonating the charge in Kate’s store was more than a quarter mile away from Tom and Mike’s firing position. The reason that it was more than a quarter mile away was because Wade would have to take a circuitous route to stay out sight of the store.

Nobody had thought of that when positioning the clacker. Rather, they chose the position that was most protected from detection and fire from the building.

A quarter mile is a five minute walk. It took Wade more than twenty. He waited until he heard either Tom or Mike fire. Then there was a flurry of return fire from the hostiles. That is when Wade moved. He figured the hostiles’ attention was focused somewhere other than him. He dropped to the ground when the hostile firing stopped.

It was an oversight that he had not taken a radio. It was not the kind of thing they had practiced.

Once in position, Wade could not see which wires he needed to attach to. Deep in the rank, August weeds at the base of a hill, Wade risked a flick of his lighter. Finding the correct pair of wires, he inserted the bare ends into the spring loaded guillotine connections. Then he vigorously exercised the clacker...and nothing happened.

Inside Kate’s store, a muffled “POOF!” and the air was filled with a rich fog of gasoline. Three ounces of black powder in the middle of a one-gallon, glass jar had detonated with enough force to atomize the gasoline but without enough force to ignite it.

“Shit!” Wade said. He vigorously exercised the clacker twelve more times with no “Boom!”

Pulling the wires out of the guillotine connections, Wade looked at the back-up wires to ensure the insulator had been stripped. He inserted those into the guillotines and then frantically worked the clacker again. He prayed to God that somebody had remembered to turn the switches that un-grounded the detonating wires.

Inside of Kate’s store, the hostiles were opening windows to air out the building and congratulating each other on escaping the near brush with death.

The human mind lives in history. By the time our nervous system communicates the signals from our eyes and ears to our brains...and our brain has a chance to process that information, our sense of “real time” is 100 milliseconds or more behind “reality”.

The second glass jar held ether which has an auto-0ignition temperature of 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only was the charge of black powder enough to ignite it, but fearing an ignition failure, Janelle had added fine, chopped steel wool to the black powder dispersion charge.

The gasoline-air cloud sympathetically detonated when the ether-air bomb detonated. The hostiles never heard what killed them.

Military grade air-fuel bombs can achieve over-pressures in excess of 1000psi. Janelle’s home-made version barely kissed 700psi.

It mattered little to the hostiles in Kate’s store. Over-pressure in excess of 45psi is almost invariably lethal due to shattered rib-cages, collapsed lungs, multiple embolisms and brain injuries.

Even an over-pressure of 15psi results in both eardrums rupturing and incapacitating pain and disorientation.

The bus overturned.

Tom and Mike, on the hilltop north of Kate’s store, involuntarily ducked. Debris rained down for almost a minute. Their hearing was negatively impacted for almost a week.

Tim’s house was shielded from the worst effects of the blast by the berm of the roadbed. The antennas were spared because they were slender and far enough away from the blast.

Wade was well protected from the blast by virtue of the hill between him and Kate's store. His hearing would recover within minutes.

Brigid heard the blast from her mother’s house and was gravely concerned for Tim’s well being. In fact, most of Capiche heard the blast.



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