Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The endless night (Cumberland Saga)

Fred Yeager felt like a pack-mule as he walked north on the driveway with the two other men. A very tired pack-mule. The emotional roller-coaster of a full day’s work and training, the sudden decision that “tonight is the night”, the night-march cross-country to the objective, the huge adrenaline surge of being in the stack and hearing gunfire from the next room over...it all added up.

And now he and his two “buddies” were staggering down the drive to drop some trees over it so the rest of the team could have time to harden up the compound.

Fred’s eyes had become accustomed to the dark, he could see woods to his right; from the sand-table exercise, he knew that was the gully that had been dammed to create the pond east of the compound. It was also the gully that the drive passed over just east of the 90 degree bend where it turned toward the public road.

As they neared the elbow in the drive, Fred looked ahead and saw Lliam illuminate a small circle at his feet to tell the men his location. It was the only time during their camping trip that Lliam had used the flashlight.

Lliam was standing at the base of a clump of basswood trees. “Is this what you are looking for?” Lliam asked.

Fred appraised one of the trunks that leaned in the desired direction by slapping it. It did not sound hollow. “It will do. If it doesn’t, well, we gotta ‘nough gas to cut as many as we need” Fred said.

Then Fred pulled out his walkie-talkie and turned it on. “Gate-to-truck. Gate-to-truck. Can you hear me?”

“Truck-to-gate. I can hear ya fine. Ya ready for a delivery?” the person on the other end of the radio replied.

“Yep” Fred said. “Do me a favor, come slow and when you get to the gully, stop and flicker your high-beams so we know it is you. We are getting kinda ragged on this end.”

“10-4. Come slow. Stop and flicker high-beams” the disembodied voice repeated.

“10-4. You got it” Fred confirmed.

Fred was getting antsy. If they had encountered the goblins coming back from a raid while walking up the drive, they had been instructed to step ten paces off the drive and to lie with their faces away from the drive until after the goblins had passed. Since there was so little traffic with the fuel rationed, Fred and his crew would have heard the goblin truck coming from quite a distance away, as would the sentries outside of Miss Shannon’s house.

But they hadn’t encountered the goblin raiders' truck and the only really dicey moment would be if it showed up before the supply truck.


Rosa found some black, plastic trash-bags in the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink. She pulled them down over the heads of Billy and Billy’s girlfriend, pulled the drawstrings tight and tied them to secure the bags. At least they wouldn’t have to look at them while moving their bodies.

Rummaging around, Gregor found a shower-curtain and repurposed it. They spread it on the carpet and toppled Billy’s girlfriend onto it and then rolled her into a cadaver-burrito.

The plan did not work as well as Gregor hoped. The soft vinyl of the shower curtain tore and it was not nearly as slippery as a poly tarp would have been. It was totally shredded by the time they got her dragged out the front door. And she was only 200 pounds. Billy was at least 300!

Rosa and Gregor were catching their breath when Samson came to check on their progress. Looking around the room he asked “Why didn’t you use the Hoyer Lift?”

“The what?” Gregor asked, confused.

“The lift” Samson repeated. “Looks sorta like an engine hoist on wheels. It is in the second bedroom. Didn’t you see it?” 
Gregor HAD seen it but didn't recognize it as something that would be useful.

A minute later, Rosa and Gregor rolled the lift into the living room. Miss Shannon had used it to help move her mother from recliner-to-toilet-to-bed after an operation but hadn’t needed it after physical therapy had been sufficient to help her mother regain mobility. It was rated for 400 pounds.

The only difficulty was sliding enough of the fabric sling beneath Billy so his body would slide into place when he was lifted. Then it was a short roll to the threshold of the front door.

While Gregor and Rosa were dealing with the two corpses, a crew was setting up to install the new exterior door the supply truck was bringing. The goal was to have Miss Shannon and her mother installed in their home and the nucleus of the security team dug-in within 24 hours. Most of the team did not know it, but Miss Shannon’s mother was in rapid decline and some of that was due to not being in her own home.


  1. Thoughts I've been thinking about:

    The looters truck AKA Goblins part two.

    When is it looting vs salvaging? Fuel already stolen is at hand. Are you going to keep it for needs? Not like you can really determine who's fuel it was, nor replace the damages the looters did stealing it. Trucks cargo, Food and so on this applies.

    The truck. Stolen? Probably. If Identifiable as a local return it to the perhaps severely battered family? Are you going to take under your wing this damaged family?

    There is a saying about no good deed goes unpunished. Or the stray cat scenario.

    The idea of putting the bodies in a vehicle, painting looters and public disposal.

    As the power is intermittently still ON and TV shows (or at least porn) is still available, this IMPLIES that civilization is still functional in the area.

    Thus, police and or military police are around. Might not want to advertise your "Taking care of Business" as they are often a tad territorial about use of force Especially as Firearms are Illegal per Presidental Decree.

    The Coves understated stay invisible to authorities might be involved.

    Back to brewing coffee (going to miss it when the shipping fails).

    1. My assumption was that the truck disposal with "Looters" tag is mostly to redirect the attention of the rest of team goblin away from the house and towards the truck crews most recent target area.

      As for TV, presumably the guests brought their own porn (and maybe a DVD player), doubtful Miss Shannon had a subscription to those kind of channels!

    2. Ke that seems to start with the assumption that Miss Shannon's home wasn't their base of operations. So, taking over that base without destroying all the looters was going to be, ah exciting perhaps.

      Revenge and sniping are pretty hard on a home stead. Let alone reporting the COVE folks to the authorities for murder by illegal firearms.

      After all has not the Cove story had some grifters attempt to fake a lease for a 6 month freebee home? That implies legal services are still an option. Let alone the "Gentleman and Lady" on the love seat telling them to go away without a warrant as my Memaw GAVE me the house, claim.

      Throwing SHOT UP dead looters into a vehicle with looters written on it is kind of an odd overkill in trying to misdirect the looters away from the Cove.

      And is highly likely to get the attention of police as firearms are illegal per Presidental Decree.

      I agree about the Porn but that electricity is still on intermittently means Line Men continue to repair the lines (as storms and accidents etc. still knock them down), power generation plants are crewed, that fuel supplies for those power plant continues to show up and so on.

      In other words, the Gov.com and some sort of perhaps staggering civilization is still out there beyond the Cove.

      That implies that some sort of effective law enforcement is keeping the roads open, food and fuel trucks rolling and important things working.

      After all those linemen and power station crews don't leave their families to the "tender Mercies" of looters to work for free and without trucks providing food and such.

      Interesting story though.

      How do you determine that law and order has failed and you're really in frontier justice time?

    3. Fer-FAL documented one of the economic collapses of Argentina. He claimed that it was never "OK" to shoot somebody at 200 meters, even if they were stealing your only vehicle.

      He also talked about the difference between urban and rural environments. Urban environments might have had more crime but rural homesteads were invaded, raped and all witnesses executed as a regular thing. Fer-FAL preferred urban.

      My perception is that most looters will be freelance opportunists. The reason they turned to crime was because they are really crappy employees and cannot get along with others.

      The idea that looters will be organized and directed seems far-fetched. That kind of thing happens in Batman movies but the only "organization" will be the signal given by fences; what they will buy and what they will not buy (the invisible guiding hand of the market).

      The Eleventh Commandment applies.

    4. Don't know Joe about lack of organization in criminal gangs. Smash and grab opportunists, yeah. Let's lazy loot and fence, maybe.

      Seems history indicates a lot of power vacuum scenarios where the Gov.com lost control and gangs took over day to day and such.

      Current Mexico is a pretty good example of that in the violent manner. Kinda hard on civilians.

      Currently in large narco controlled South American areas they ARE the Government and actually do a fair job keeping the peace as trouble is hard on Business. I've done mission work there and as long as you're clearly NOT trying to disrupt their business, they are pretty friendly. I celebrated Christmas at a narco household and to this day wonder how they got a real pine tree for the X-mas tree.

  2. Looking good, Joe. A few typos and stylistic suggestions.
    "adrenaline search" → adrenaline surge
    "Fred’s eyes had become accustomed to the dark, he could see woods to his right. From the sand-table exercise, ..." → Fred's eyes had become accustomed to the dark. He could see woods to his right; from the sand-table exercise, ...
    "antsie" This spelling is in urbandictionary but "antsy" is much more common in the usage you intend.
    "the goblin raider’s truck" → the goblin raiders' truck [presumably, multiple raiders are riding in the truck]
    "the got her dragged" → they got her dragged
    "iand the nucleus" → and the nucleus

  3. Note to self: buy duct tape and painters drop cloth, er, plastic; skip bathroom accessories. I'm wondering if this scene comes from ERJ's personal experience or that of an associate.

    Stealing "cadaver-burrito". Ha!

    I volunteered to be the Hoyer liftee in class; it was rather unsettling becoming untethered from Mother Earth.

    Being a slow learner, I also volunteered to be the car crash victim on a back board wearing a cervical collar. The collar was misapplied. Completely immobilized, my airway started swelling shut. Fellow student commented that I was freaking her out as I appeared dead. I can enthusiastically recommend avoiding either torture device.


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