Monday, October 24, 2022

Clayton and Krystal: Ambush

Clayton turned slightly his chair so the action was to his left-front.

He heard murmuring on the landing as the miscreants got their act together.

The dim illumination of a small penlight traced about the sheets of wax paper Clayton had taped to the inside of the window. Clayton was an avid reader of military-fiction. He had read all of the classics...Clancy, Coyle, Curtis, Dickson... and had absorbed the lessons of ambush, kill-sacks and preparation.

The essence of an ambush is to deceive and to deny the target information until it is too late for them to countermeasure.

The hazy, translucent wax paper reflected enough light back at the viewer to deny them any useful information.

The light stopped tracing around the window and appeared to be directed downward.

Clayton heard the clink of tools. He heard the striking of the hammer, then the sound of the dead-bolt dropping on the floor.

Clayton had a moment of panic. If they breached the door-handle that quickly, all of his plans would come to naught.

He curled his hand around the half-dozen, 5/16” hex nuts he had prepared and lobbed them toward the window.

Then he shielded his eyes in the crook of his arm and counted out a half second “Mississi…” he depressed the plunger in his left hand. 

Even through his closed eyelids and with his eyes buried in his arm he saw red.

He heard the tools being dropped and hitting the concrete floor of the landing outside the door.

Clayton had stripped the 30,000 Lumen*, unidirectional light-bars off of his snow-plows and other equipment and hung them in the windows of the doors. One each in the doors he considered least likely as point-of-entry and two of them for the one the burglars were attempting to enter.

Clayton had hung them at the level where he expected the thugs’ eyes to be.

He had wired all four lamps in parallel. He did not want to have to screw around with remembering which switch went to which door.

He gave the lamp a full, two-second pulse before hitting the plunger again to turn them off.

Then he waited for another second before lifting his head from his arm.

He heard and saw precisely...nothing.

Then a crash.

Then the sound of something hitting the chain-link fence “Ker-ching”.

Unable to contain his curiosity, he scrolled through the WIFI security cams on his smartphone.

One goblin was hand-over-handing his way along the toprail of the fence. Unfortunately for him, he had hit the fence to the left of the gate and was working away from it.

The second goblin was harder to find. Clayton winced when he realized that the goblin had run, full-tilt, into the back-blade on his landscaping tractor. That goblin was struggling to get back upright and his gait suggested he was both blinded and lamed.

It took Clayton several passes through all of the screens before he found the third goblin. That goblin was laying face-up at the base of the steps to the landing.

Slowly, the third goblin stirred.

Clayton placed the smartphone down and cracked opened the bolt of the pump shotgun. He felt (for the fifth time that evening) to ensure he had a round chambered and stroked the corncob fore-arm back into battery. And he waited.

And waited…

And waited…

After a half-hour he did another scan of the cameras. The yard was empty.

He checked out the landing outside the door. There was a 3-pound hand-sledge and a cold-chisel with a fish-tail ground into the edge. The tool bag that had been left behind had miscellaneous tools (including a soldering iron) and a handful of zip-ties.

This had clearly NOT been a crime-of-impulse.


Clayton was frustrated as he tried to explain the situation to Krystal.

It was as if she was in active denial and what was crystal clear to Clayton was totally opaque to Krystal.

Of course he had not gone back to sleep after the ambush. Adrenaline does that to a person. He had turned over what he had seen, turned it over and over in his mind trying to make sense of it all.

“It took them literally four seconds to knock the deadbolt off the door” Clayton told her.

Krystal’s face suggested that didn’t mean much to her.

“Those were $50 deadbolts and they cracked them open almost as fast as we could open them with a key” Clayton tried again. "They had tools!"

“So?” Krystal responded.

“So they can walk in any time they want” Clayton said.

“But you stopped them. Surely they won’t try again” Krystal said. She had great faith in her man.

“I might agree if I thought those three were operating alone, but SOMEBODY made them specialized tools. The average thug cannot grind a cold-chisel like that” Clayton persisted, holding up the cold-chisel with the wide, shallow notch and edge that made it so effective at biting into and sliding the dead-bolt.

“And somebody dropped them off and was going to pick them and their loot up…” Clayton said. "They were not operating on their own."

Krystal’s face remained skeptical.

Then Clayton handed her the zip-ties. “Do you know what these are?”

“Yeah” Krystal said. “I have seen you use these to hold wires and things together.”

“Cops use them for handcuffs” Clayton said, cryptically.

“Do you know what this is?” Clayton asked, holding up the soldering iron.

“No” Krystal said.

“It is a soldering iron. The tip gets to more than 700 degrees. Why, do you think, home-invaders would have zip-ties and a soldering iron in their tool bag?” Clayton pushed.

“I don’t know. Maybe to break into safes?” she ventured.

“Not hot enough” Clayton said. “Maybe to torture people so they say where they keep their valuables. Maybe to torture their kids to get that information? Maybe they get their jollies by causing pain…”

Enlightenment dawned in Krystal’s eyes. She drew in a breath and gulped. 

Next Installment

* A 100W, incandescent bulb puts out 1600 Lumens and it is omni-directional. Each light-bar is putting out as much light as 20 100W, incandescent bulbs and it is all pointing out the window.


  1. I've been enjoying your latest fiction series. I like the idea of using powerful lights as a sort of non-lethal "white light claymore" but I don't grok the significance of Clayton throwing the 5/16" nuts. Is the idea that the noise would cause the goblins to reflexively look directly into the lights' hot spot?

    1. Yes. They were looking down at the lock-set or were "look-outs"

      It was to get them to look at the window. You nailed it.

  2. I'm learning new stuff. Keep it coming. I like the thinking part of this.

  3. Well done. Yes, people will ALWAYS look up to see where a 'noise' is coming from, especially if it is in front of them.

  4. had no idea deadbolts were so useless scary

  5. also did not occur to me it would be a masterminded widespread operation
    clayton's a lot smarter than i

  6. None, it seems, are readily, or economically, available anymore but old style camera flashbulbs, a little wire and some sort of triggering switch plus a nine volt battery used to work wonders, especially if upon triggering the "alarm" there were 3-4 quiet beeps accompanied by 3-4 blinks of a dim red small indicator light or led before the flashbulb activates. It's instinct to look at it and when 3 seconds later the flashbulb activates not only is 30-45 seconds of total night blindness guaranteed, but the flash acts as a convenient intruder alert.

    If further action is required, just look for the idiot running into things at full speed and apply Sufficient Problem Resolution for the Circumstances. Extra points for arranging The Immediate Environment to provide more things to run into....

    I wonder if 60-100 watt (actual, not "equivalent") LED floodlights activate quickly enough upon power-on to produce an effect similar to flashbulbs. Clearly, experimentation is needed....


      Actual light bar on Sprite's tractor. That is what I was modeling as being on Clayton's equipment.

    2. LEDs are a lot faster than incandescent bulbs. It would require some additional electronics but they can be strobed. Further disorient the goblins.

      Also, instead of photographic flash bulbs, you can go back to flash powder. Simple to make:

  7. Excellent story so far. Now it's time to get out of town. Those goblins will be back for revenge. I'm nicer than Clayton. I'd do a disabling attack and set the house ablaze as I leave out. Even better using that smartphone security system do it a safer distance away as so not to get random bullets in me and my beloved.

    As that saying goes don't be at the X.

  8. Correction, I'm NOT as nice as Clayton.

  9. ERJ, sadly I am probably like Krystal in that I find it hard to believe are like that (even though I know they are). This is the brave new world into which we are coming.

    And yes - I, too, had no idea deadbolts were so useless.

    1. Deadbolts vary a lot in quality. One of the exacerbating issues is the size of the hole in pre-drilled doors. They tend to be large so they can accommodate the widest range of lock-sets.

      Even within a brand, the resistance to "drifting" it with a striking tool varies.

      The quick-fix is to install three or four self-tapping, sheetmetal screws or pole-barn screws to trap the deadbolt housing on the exterior face.

      It looks steampunk but it works.

      That might be worth a future post.

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  11. Nice surprise with the LED light bars! They would need approximately 280 watts of power each, or around 23 amps at 12 volts (figuring 14 watts actual draw for each 100 watt equivalent X 20). Times four is 96 amps. That would take a rather large power supply or battery.

  12. Since they are 12V light bars off of a vehicle, Clayton would lug in a lead-acid battery from one of his trucks. The other thing is that he is triggering 4 of then simultaneously.

    As an aside, DARPA investigated using IR or UV lasers playing across the battle-field at eye-level. Since peak power rates were prohibitive, they had universities investigating chemical-powered charging...think glow-sticks or lightning bugs.

    IR and UV were investigated because they punched through haze and fog better and did not alert the targets.

    I have no information regarding whether the investigation yielded results.

    Clayton was using what he had in-hand at the moment.


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