Friday, March 5, 2021

Remnant: Asymmetry

Vernon Densa was able to get Jim calmed down.

The key was to take him seriously, or at least appear to.

Vernon made a big show of calling HR to get Jim’s paperwork for retirement started.

“Hey Jim, its gunna take a week to process. Whaddya say we drive out to that "can" and look it over?” Vernon asked.

Jim squinted at Vernon. It took a lot to get Vernon out of the office and here he was, volunteering. “Guess you need them “cans” fixed pretty bad” Jim said.

“Yeah, and if you are retiring I gotta be able to train your replacement” Vernon said.

Even if it was a transparent ploy to get Jim back on the job, Jim appreciated the effort. At 325 pounds, Vernon moving was a major effort.

The second trip to the “can” was a mirror image of the first trip. Nothing happened for about five minutes and then incoming.

The reports were muffled which made it difficult to sort out exactly where the shots were coming from.

Jim moved more quickly than Vernon and Vernon picked up a leg wound from a round that hit the ground and was tumbling. The outside of his left thigh was hamburger.

“Jesus Mother-fucking Christ! They are shooting at us” Vernon said.

“No shit” Jim drawled. Judging by the number of rounds hitting the ground, Jim guessed the shooter was a significant distance away. The shooter might not have been trying to hit the men but he certainly wasn’t making any effort to miss them.

If the men had any training in anatomy, the would have realized that had the tumbling bullet hit the INSIDE of Vernon’s thigh it would have likely severed the Femoral Artery and Vernon would likely have bled-out within two minutes.
Jim got on the radio and called in the police. Damned if he was going to let Vernon bleed all over his truck.

The shooting stopped as soon as the squad cars showed up.

Then the ambulance carted Vernon off.

Then the shooter(s) and the cops started playing whack-a-mole.

Jim left and took the truck back to the depot.


Jim had the repair effort organized for first light, next morning.

He called for police support before the work crew pulled out of the yard.

Three squad cars and a helicopter tried to chase down the shooters while Jim’s crew pumped out the hole. EPA be damned. The five-hundred-gallon-per-minute pump pounded the raw-sewage down a storm drain. Fans ventilated as the waste-water level dropped. Half-inch tread-plate was propped up at a 45 degree angle to provide some cover against incoming bullets.

Jim put on a lift harness and hooked up to a winch. He slid down the ladder and used an impact tool to unbolt the first pump unit. He was going to do a straight swap-out and fix the jammed up pumps in the safety of the Municipal Building work area.

Union rules required that a journeyman pipe-fitter “inspect and sign-off” on the pipe-hookups. Union rules required that a journeyman electrician “inspect and sign-off” on the electrical connections. Both men knew Jim, and like Jim were within a few years of having thirty years in. Both men had Jim snap a photo on his smartphone and send them the pictures. Of course there was no signal inside the can, but the men “inspected and signed off” before they received the pictures.

They had no interest in visiting a job-site where bullets were flying.

There were eleven hours of daylight and Jim got both pumps swapped out in that time. Barely.

It had taken three City trucks, six crew working thirteen hours each (eight straight time and five OT), three squad cars with the same straight time/OT, eight hours of helicopter time plus a master aviation mechanic inspection to ensure the bullet holes in the chopper didn’t impair anything critical to airworthiness.

The replacements were jammed up the next night with more scrap wood and seven cents worth of wire.
---A question to my readers: A traditional writer has to guess about which characters and which story-lines will be most interesting to his future readers. For on-line, serial fiction that is a constraint only if I let it be.
If I handed the manuscript to a typical editor he/she would tell me "Too many characters, too many story lines. Prune them"
So I ask you, hat-in-hand, which characters do you find most engaging? Not "most likeable" but "most engaging"? Are there any loose-ends that you would be tickled to see explored? Do you find the microcosm of Eaton Rapids and how they adapt more interesting than the monkey-hammering of major cities? Are the 7^7th freaks interesting; even with a 90% die-off they must still kill off 39-of-40 to achieve their goal? How about the warlord devolution of cities? The control freaks in government?

Or, I can just keep swinging from character to character like Tarzan swinging from vine-to-vine and we end up wherever the story takes us.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Don't change anything. I like the way you write!!

  2. As I have said before, if I could write like you, I would be reading my own stories, not yours. Carry on.

  3. I really like your stories. And the small town settings are perfect for me I think that you usually have a max amount of characters that I can keep straight but that may just be my age. Great job, Joe. Keep it up please.--ken

  4. Don't change a thing. Some things need a great hero. This story needs a group of small heroes.

  5. Sounds like it's time for some concrete.

    Question: is this only happening in one town, or is it all over? Seems to me that this sort of sabotage would have the biggest bang for its buck in a heavily populated area.

    1. Some of the 7^7th crowd are in software, or have significant others who are in software.

      Jim Cooper's city of 400k is the Beta test site for this mode of attack. There are other attacks and other Beta cities.

      This sequence is to give readers some insight into the enemy and how normies countermeasure.

  6. Usually us older folk have trouble with too many characters or convoluted plot lines. Your characters are vivid and distinctive.
    You are getting a lot more done in this life tha I am. My only advice is write moar! faster!

    Thanks for both the great stories and your analytical pieces. I may be the only one, but I like the math based analysis, like the one on home expenses after getting a free house.

    Ps: I saw one about right angles on a semi-circle that I thought was wrong. Want to take a crack at it?

  7. I like your style, and thre aren't too many long as they eventually swing together.

  8. Woody. Would like to know more about Jarrell and sniff bricks.

  9. Real life is rarely simple, so keep it 'so called complicated', because that's real. When I get confused about who when and where, I just back up and reread. I think your audience has the original old high school reading comprehension. When it's a little bit more of a challenge to follow along, it definitely more rewarding. I just wonder what it'd be like listening to you read your stories out loud? I'd know the story teller joe a little better. I really like to read the comments. It's like we are in class and you can ask a question or add insight. Very nice.

  10. I enjoy the individuals story caught up in the general chaos and fighting while trying to maintain some semblance of civilization. I tend to like the back and forth story telling between the forces. I don't like super hero fantasy BS, just regular folks like me doing heroic deeds out of desperation or compassion.

  11. As long as you keep bouncing back to the original premise I am good with the growing number of characters in the story. Each tells a part of the tale and instead of having the same character roving from scenario to scenario (which is unrealistic) having various and distinct people drop in and play a role in the tale is fine and actually reflects life more accurately.

  12. Real life is messy. You think it seems bouncy. Seems normal to me. Keep it going, I like it. I like the homemade inventions like in your last saga with the mortars and clay extract. It keeps me coming back.

  13. What everybody else said. It's your story, write the way you want. I wait impatiently for each new installment.
    stay safe

  14. I'd say its working as is and it is interesting and enjoyable to read. So far there's no problem keeping track of the various characters/subplots.

  15. I like the way things are progressing.

  16. I like the way things are progressing.

  17. I'm enjoying the story so far. It will be interesting to see how you pull all of the different characters and situations together at some point in the future.

  18. I like more Eaton Rapids and limited big city.

  19. The essence of conservatism is to keep what's proven to work.

    If you change anything, we will all know you're secretly a liberal.

  20. Take it wherever your muse wants to go. We're just along for the ride! :-)

  21. I came in kinda late, but I'm enjoying the free ice cream you're cooking up just the way you're doing it.

  22. The only thing I would change is maybe the character dialogue. "They're" instead of "they are" would seem to be more realistic. Stuff like that.
    Lots of characters keeps it interesting. Maybe more chapters? Why shoot for a prime time special when you've got miniseries material quality.

  23. I keep coming back, that's all I know.

  24. I like the vignette style of intersecting story arcs and interesting character development. Keep it up.


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