Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy
What we saw was not pretty. The raiders were all men, which meant they were a raiding party or were living only by raiding others. Since they came from the south, either they were pure raiders or were on their way back to some base. We would have to listen to know more about them. We saw Harry and Marissa tied up not too far from the main fire. We were happy to see that there were only eleven and the rest of the horses were pack animals. We listened a bit and determined that it was likely that they were not returning to any place but were simply a raiding group.
Bennie motioned to me to back away. We crawled away from their camp to a place where we could talk in low voices. "I think they are pure raiders," he said.
"Yes, and there are too many for us to attack directly with any likelihood of success."
"Correct. We will have to figure out a diversion to give us a chance. That means later tonight before we can get in plus we will have to set an ambush for when they pursue us."
I nodded. Bennie was good at this for some reason. He and I had done a lot of scouting and exploring and had planned for different scenarios, except for the stag's group of animals. I don't think anyone could have planned for that or how to do anything about them.
We called the situation into Poppa Jack and Momma Shirley by radio. They agreed that an effort to save Harry and Marissa would be worthwhile but to not unnecessarily risk ourselves. Jack set up a listening watch for us to check in every two hours. We could miss one but not two or they would gather a party to ride out to rescue us or avenge our deaths. We were cautioned again not to do anything too risky.
Bennie and I then talked through a couple of plans. We moved back a distance and put together an ambush position that would allow us to stop any pursuit or at least give them pause as to the worth of following us.
We decided that we would need to cause a distraction to have any hope of helping Harry or Marissa. I would go around the camp and start a fire north of them. With the fire would be some timed explosions. When they went off, Bennie would try to get in and make the rescue. We would coordinate by our two-meter radios. The plan went off without a problem and the raiders left only two to guard Harry and Marissa. Bennie's practice with a bow and arrows paid off as he shot them and ran in to cut both loose. He grabbed both of them and pulled them from the camp.
They were in bad shape, Harry having been beaten and Marissa raped repeatedly. On reaching his horse, Bennie put them on it and started leading them south away from the camp. As he did that he called me and told me what was happening. We would meet at our ambush point.
I rode at a moderate speed to keep the noise down yet make good time. We met at the ambush point and could hear that the bad guys had found Harry and Marissa gone and the guards dead. We heard the horses galloping our way.
We hunkered down and got ready for our little fight. We had set explosives and both of us had automatic rifles readied to hose down the area. I will never know what their leaders were thinking but they came to us riding hard. We set off the explosives and killed three leaving only six. Our rifles were on auto and we killed the rest. Neither of us made an effort to leave any of them alive.
Bennie went in to make sure all were dead while I tried to help Harry and Marissa. They would live but were scarred physically and mentally from their ordeal. They had never thought that people would do to any person what happened to them and their partners. Bennie returned and told me all the raiders were dead. I said, "Bennie, they aren't in any shape to go further. Go back and get the packhorse and our equipment. I'll stay here with them."
He left and returned about an hour later. I had moved about fifty feet and started a small fire for cooking and heat. It was shielded from casual looks but I knew Bennie would see it easily. I was correct. He unloaded our packhorse and set up the tent. We moved Marissa and Harry into it. I bathed Marissa gently with water Bennie got from a nearby creek and had heated. Bennie did the same for Harry bandaging the worst of his injuries. There were many bruises on both their bodies.
It had been a couple of hours since the ambush. Marissa suddenly asked, "Why did they treat us that way? We offered them no violence. They killed Charlie and Teresa for no reason and they made us watch. Why?" She cried.
I patted her and held her while she cried. She looked at me like I had answers. I said, "Some people are just not good. The virus didn't care whether or not you were a good person or a bad person.
"Bad people who were held in check by the cops are no longer restrained and they go about being worse and worse until someone or something stops them. My adopted dad, Jack, has had to stop his own uncle and cousin as well as some others who had banded together to create a reign of terror that would spread everywhere if given the chance.
"I've learned from him and so did Bennie. We don't look for trouble but have found that dealing with it forthrightly and promptly is best. Also, being ready to fight for our rights frequently prevents the need for that fight.
"Things are different and we must govern ourselves and be watchful and protective. Failure can be fatal.
"I'm sorry for Teresa and Charlie. We'll bury them tomorrow. Get some sleep now."
It was a quiet night but Bennie and I stood watches just in case there was someone else who might cause trouble. In the morning, we prepared a simple breakfast and I woke up Harry and Marissa. They came out slowly and joined us for breakfast.
Marissa said, "What's going to happen to us? The farm is gone!"
Bennie replied, "That's up to you. You could rebuild or you could go to Preservation and seek to join them."
Marissa said, "Teresa and Charlie were the farmers. I was studying meteorology to be a broadcast weather person and Harry was studying marketing. We don't have value now. I don't think I would be wanted in front of a camera." She said that feeling her torn and bruised face. Harry started to say something but just squeezed her hand.
I looked over at her. I said, "That's an understandable statement but it's also foolish. First, Harry cares about you not some exterior picture of a plastic person. Second, it's your mind and willingness to work that have worth. Those aren't damaged. There are women in Preservation who have suffered more and survived to become happy, giving members of our community. Some of the worst scars are inside and even those can be healed. You need to talk to my Momma Shirley. She will set you straight. She did that for me and for many others. That's why she and Poppa Jack are the leaders of Preservation."
When Bennie asked me to marry him, I sat him down in the living room at Poppa Jack and Momma Shirley's house and told him all my history. I also told him that I had become a Christian and a changed person. That's why he hadn't gotten me into his bed! He had heard some rumors and this cleared the air. He kissed me and, in front of my adopted parents, asked me again to marry him. I said that I would. He said that he would be my earthly rock on which I could depend. It's worked out pretty well.
Harry and Marissa looked surprised at that but nodded slowly. We got out an old road map and marked it with where we were and a safe route to Preservation that was southwest of here. We had caught four horses from the raiders. We rode back slowly to the farm and, there, Harry and Bennie dug a common grave for Charlie and Teresa. Bennie prayed over that grave. We gave them both weapons and a two-meter radio tuned to the main repeater frequency. We marked places on the map and told them to call from there and wait for an answer for a few minutes. Bennie showed them what a repeater sounded like when it was keyed by using our heavier radio with more power than a handheld. He reported in and told the watch stander that Harry and Marissa were on their way there in the morning and should be escorted to my parents at my request.
We moved down to I-20 for the night and parted ways in the morning. Two days later, we were told that they made it safely.
We went back to our plan that took us south of I-29 to the Rock Eagle 4-H Center near Eatonton. There really is a Rock Eagle!
We went to it first off following the signs. It was put together by Indians hundreds of years ago using large rocks. The fence around the mound of rock was down in spots but the old tower built during or before World War Two (according to the sign) was solid and the view of the eagle was magnificent. We walked back down and rode over to the lake with the camp on the other side. After looking around, we went over to the camp and used one of the public buildings on the edge of the lake with large, intact windows looking out onto the lake. We found canoes and, after popping a lock, paddles. We paddled all over the lake and had a good time. It was a carefree moment that was good after dealing with the raiders. We decided to spend a second night there even before we spent the first one. We went into one of the cabins and extracted mattresses to give us a comfortable bed and had a great night and a good, though exhausted sleep.
We woke up the next morning with aching arms from the unaccustomed paddling but the aches quickly went away as we exercised while doing our usual morning chores. The day could not have been better. It was one of those clear, bright, hot fall days that Georgia has and we made the most of it. We would skinny dip and then sun bathe nude until the sun warmed our bodies through. Then we would skinny dip again to repeat the process. We went through the camp's administrative offices and dining hall just looking around. We would leave in the morning. That night on the radio, we told everyone that it was a place that should be visited repeatedly and kept intact for the future.
We bid Rock Eagle a fond good bye and left heading back north to look for more area to explore. We went north back to I-20 and then turned east. It was another beautiful, warm fall day in Georgia. Soon, we passed over the bridge for Lake Oconee and drifted further east following I-20. We on a little further and then dropped south to follow the signs to Reynolds Plantation, an expensive housing development on the lake before the Day. We rode through and it was deserted. It seemed that no one had any use for this land since there was so much good farming land and so little people.
We left there and headed back north and east cutting across looking for people or I-20. This was good farming land and never had many people in it even before the Day. We continued on at an easy pace for the rest of the day ending up close to Warrenton and entered the town. We saw signs of people but no one around. Bennie gave me his alert signal but no panic. We began to look for signs of people and make ourselves obvious. It was risky but a couple usually did not worry people too much.
We had wandered through the town and were headed back out and around when a man stepping out from a porch stopped us. He had a rifle on his arm but I noticed his eyes flicker to both sides so he wasn't alone. We came closer to him and dismounted. We left our rifles on our saddles as he looked clean and neat which suggested he lived here.
Bennie said, "Hello, it's good to see you. I'm Bennie and this is my wife, Janice. We're from Preservation."
I said, "Hi," and smiled.
He smiled back in a friendly way. He said, "I'm James Robertson and live around here. What brings you people to these parts?"
Bennie said, "We're from a new community, Preservation, located close to Carrollton. We farm and have some manufacturing capability that we have re-established. Janice and I are exploring to find other groups to make contact and find out how people are doing."
"How big is your group?"
Bennie responded, "Let's sit down in the shade while your friends check out back trail and verify that we're alone. I'll be glad to tell you about Preservation and its history and ours."
James thought for a moment and then nodded. He led us into a store with tables and chairs. It looked like a general store that was converted into a meeting place. The shelves weren't bare but weren't full either. He said, "Okay, we'll do that. I think you're telling the truth and the boys won't find anyone. Point guards don't usually have a pack animal. Now, let's hear about this Preservation."