The Mayor called Dar Spaulding, Melody’s father. “Something went down at the Sudak farm. Frank called me up and said somebody shot up a few of his cows. I need to have somebody take the truck and get the meat.”
“Don’t you usually have Jarrell do these kinds of errands?” Dar asked, reasonably.
“Take him with you, if you want. Key point: Strangers showed up and shot up the Sudak farm. Jarrell is an optimist tends to give people the benefit-of-the-doubt” the Mayor explained.
Dar gave that some consideration.
Dar met Jarrell at the Mayor’s house. Owen, one of Dar’s buddies was with him. As Jarrell walked up, Dar handed him a rifle.
“I gotta gun” Jarrell said.
“Handguns are for when you have to put your rifle down to take a leak” Dar said.
Dar gave him a quick run-down on recent events and the errand the Mayor had given them. Dar also gave Jarrell a few quick pointers about the weapon he brought him. In many ways it was similar to the .22 bolt action Dar had started him out on. The exception was that it was chambered in .308 Winchester and there was duct-tape over the end of the barrel.
Jarrell pointed at the tape and asked "What's this for?"
"That tape is to keep crap out of the barrel" Dar said. "We aren't going to a nice, clean shooting range."
“It is going to be might crowded in the cab” Jarrell pointed out.
“Owen and I will be riding in back” Dar grunted out. That is when Jarrell picked up on the fact that Owen was left handed.
Dar and Owen sat in the bed of the pickup with their backs to the cab. The only part visible were their heads.
Frank and Dar were members of the VFW chapter in Onondaga. They knew each other. Frank told Dar what happened with very little embellishment.
“How the hell did they know you had cattle?” Dar mused.
Jarrell offered his opinion. “Maybe they cruised the internet. You can flip the base-map to satellite imagery on most mapping apps. You can zoom down to where you can see a five-gallon bucket and power-lines."
Frank exhaled a gusty sigh. “That would explain how they knew about the two-track”
|A example of a well muscled Limousin bull
Dar was already thinking two steps ahead. “I wonder if anybody checked on Jethro.” Jethro Beaudine was a good-old-boy whose family operated the Twin Pine Limousin cattle ranch that was right on M-99 half-way between Lansing and Eaton Rapids. Jethro like to joke around that he was the only hillbilly he knew who owned 80 Limousins.
The Twin Pine ranch used Artificial Insemination and high-end brood cows to produce purebred Limousin bulls for the beef market. Michigan was a too small of a market to attract a lot of competition but business was steady and profitable.
Dar made a call to the Mayor. The Mayor was not able to get through to Jethro by phone. The Mayor called back and asked Dar to check it out.
Dar left Jarrell with Frank to continue processing the meat into pieces that were of a convenient size to move.
Dar and Owen drove the pickup to a cemetery that was close to the Twin Pine ranch and parked. Rummage around the Mayor’s pickup, the found the pair of binoculars Dar hoped would be there. In better times, Dar had seen the Mayor birdwatching along the river.
Moving southeast and climbing in elevation, they found an over look a quarter-mile from the cemetery and saw what they feared they might find.
The driveway, up by the barn was packed with vehicles. There were dead cows and calves scattered about the pastures and clusters of men were hacking away at them.
Using the binoculars, Dar saw bodies...human bodies...in the yard. Based on size and clothing Dar knew in his heart that he was looking at the Beaudine family.
Rather than bother the Mayor, Dar and Owen decided to “take care of business” themselves. The fact that they were outnumbered 6-to-1 did not concern them in the least. They were both Marines. They had surprise, terrain and range on their side. They would make it work.
Dar set up three shooting positions while Owen, who was five years younger, moved to another position to bottle up the drive out of the ranch.
Dar waited until the first party had finished “packaging” the animal they were working on. As the first man stood up and stretched his back, Dar dropped where he they stood.
Then Dar started servicing targets from close-to-far. He took his time, shooting stationary targets first. The targets made it easy for him as they ran straight away from the reports from his rifle. They would have been much harder to hit if they had been curving way as the ran.
Owen shredded the windshield of the first two trucks attempting to flee. That corked up the driveway. From 200 yards he worked his way up the driveway. Like Dar, he killed the closest targets first.
Two of the twelve targets slipped way by virtue of luck or some animal cunning that informed them on how to use concealment. Either Dar or Owen would have shot them if they had seen them but it was not worth the risk to go looking for them. That would negate their advantages. Better they should get away.
Neither man went down to count casualties. More than one fighter has been killed by a man who appears to be dead, but wasn’t. Better to give them plenty of time to bleed out. A stiff corpse is a good corpse.
As they got into the truck to drive back to the Sudak farm, Dar called the Mayor. “I been thinking on something Jarrell said. He said the raiders are probably looking at satellite images. He said you can zoom in close enough to see a power-line.”
“If he is right, then every hobby-farmer with a couple of animals is a target. If we expect any animals...or farmers to survive then we better reach out to them and come up with some kind of plan.”