Destruction Aftermath, Book 4 - Cover

Destruction Aftermath, Book 4

Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy

Chapter 1

It's been over a year since George was born and Jen and I were having a case of wanderlust. Her dad, Jim, wanted to find his friends who had lived at Salt Lake City. Jam had told him by radio that they were going to leave Dugway base and head south looking for a better place. That was the last transmission ever received from them and it had been almost ten years. Jim had worried but couldn't convince enough people to make up a search party to go looking.

His wives were willing since their grandson was going with Jen and I. Janice and Bennie wanted to go as did two other couples. That would make fourteen in the party including baby, George. My dad and mom were torn by what they saw as their duty to stay to Preservation and their desire to be with their son and grandson. Duty won out reluctantly.

We would leave in the spring on horses with two wagons equipped with a HF radio in each along with two meter rigs and HT's for local use on the trip. There was a big debate about using a gas powered vehicle but, in the end, using horses won out.

It was mid April when we left Preservation. My parents and others came to see us off. I could tell Dad and Mom were both not happy at watching their son and grandson both leaving them for a long trip. Staying in contact by radio would help but it's not the same. George would be walking before we got back.

Our initial route would be up to I-20 and follow it to Birmingham. All of this to Talladega was Preservation territory. From that point, we would go to Memphis and look for a crossing point. Crossing the Mississippi River might not be a casual item on our trip. Even though it was a little out of the way, we wanted to have choices going over the Mississippi before really heading north. After that, we would let the roads and the weather guide us.

We had reactivated the weather station. The warnings about bad weather had helped. The Lavacans really appreciated it as they were able to prepare for a hurricane last summer. We would appreciate it, also, as we headed north. It was warm in Georgia and Alabama but could get cold further north during this time of year. The Rockies could be a problem even into what is summertime in Georgia. We didn't want a Spring snow storm that we would have to live through or travel through!

Our trip to Talladega on I-20 was without incident. We met face to face some people who we had never seen and only heard. I remarked to Jen's dad that it was a big country. He replied, "Wait until you see the Great Plains and the Rockies. Crossing the Great Plains to the Rockies will take over a week."

We crossed Lake Logan Martin which was pretty much the western edge of Preservation land. From Talladega, we continued on I-20 and went up.

Most people think of the south as moderately flat and there is considerable truth to that thought. However, the southern tip of the Appalachians runs from northeast to southwest from the corner of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to about Montgomery. There is nothing high but, on foot, on horseback, or by wagon, it was steep enough for right now. We rarely went into Birmingham since Atlanta was so close and were unsure of conditions there. Reaching Leeds, we stopped for the night camping beside the roadway as it crossed a creek.

As we were stopping, we could see smoke rising from a small fire. Someone was in Birmingham. We had picked a high spot just beyond the creek to place our main radio wagon and antenna. We looked west as various members of our party talked to friends and relatives in Preservation. Our binoculars picked out four different fires. I wondered out loud about them being signal fires or large camp fires.

Bennie was with me and said, "I think they are signal fires. You wouldn't want a camp fire to get that large and showy. The question is, 'Are they a warning or an invitation?'"

"That's what I wonder, Bennie. We are going to have to be careful tomorrow."

"Correct, Mike." Jen's dad said. "The road will be exposed and there's nothing much we can do about it. According to the map, we should be able to cut north on I-65 and pick up US 78 heading toward Memphis but that will be downtown."

Bennie said, "Jim, should we have people further on point?"

"No, I think we need to watch the road ahead and stay close enough for mutual support. The point people need to be very alert. However, it looks like most of the fires we see are south of our line. We don't want a confrontation but I would welcome a polite meeting with the inhabitants. We just don't know what's going on here and it would be nice to have more knowledge."

Our wagon and antenna were silhouetted against the sky though I doubt the antenna could be seen. We heard a voice, "Hello, the camp. Who are you and where are you going?"

Jim responded, "We are residents of Preservation in Georgia. We are on an exploring mission with plans to go out beyond the Rockies. Please, come in and let's meet."

We heard some low talk and then heard, "Don't shoot. We don't want to fight you. If you're telling the truth about just exploring, we will be okay. I'm coming in." We saw a figure rise out of the darkness and slowly come forward. I could see that it was armed though that wasn't a shock. People went armed because of animals if no other reason.

He arrived and Jim said, "Hello, I'm Jim Sinclair. This is Bennie Cook and that's Mike Mathews. We are all from Preservation." Jim smiled at the stranger.

He said, "I'm Al. We have this area for our own."

Jim responded, "That's great, Al. We are not here to try to take over anyone's territory. Like I said, we are passing through this area exploring."

Al shook hands with each of us. Jen came up with George and was introduced. We all sat down on the ground in the light of a lantern that Bennie lit. "Our leadership is trying to contact as many surviving groups as possible mapping out areas of interest and getting us talking. We have radios, antennas, and generators that we will give you." Jim said.

Al looked a bit startled at that. "What do you mean?"

Jim responded again. "We have a group of people in our community who were ham radio operators before the Day including me. We have radios along with everything it takes to make them work to give away. These radios allow you to contact people all over the world. We have friends in southern Alabama, Texas, and even England. Mike and Bennie here have been to Texas and England. We have a weather station in Atlanta and warn you of incoming storms. It's not perfect but it is better than nothing."

"I think we might be interested in one of your radios. How do you govern yourselves?"

Jim said, "We elect our leaders. Mike's father is our current director. Jack and the council lead us but are always subject to the community. Their function is more as coordinators than rulers. Al, we would like to meet more of your people. Perhaps tomorrow, you could get together a group to come talk with us. We aren't in a hurry and can remain here, unless there's another place you would prefer we go."

"No, here is fine. I will do that. I will go talk to my people. See you tomorrow."

"Good evening."

The three of us decided not to set out sentries but to keep close and run an internal guard which meant we slept on an alert status. That was not as restful but, until we knew more, we would be careful. Al's group had some good scouts.

We got through the night without alarm. As we were starting breakfast the next morning, we saw movement in the woods. We saw a number of forms but only five came forward. Al was one of them. He came up to Jim and said, "We would like to talk."

Jim answered, "Fine. We're getting ready to eat breakfast. Would you join us?"

They looked a little shocked at the offer but nodded. Al and one other man sat with Jim and his wives. The other three joined Bennie and me and our wives. We were all close together. I'm not sure that Al and his buddies knew that the wives were as dangerous as the men. I know I wouldn't want to go hand to hand with my sister, Janice, nor my wife.

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