Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Collapse CXXXIII: Packing Up

 29 June 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

This was the day of packing and transporting.

After another breakfast of bacon and coffee (will wonders never cease?), the order of the day was transporting the most valuable items from the previous day’s search back to town for inventorying and distribution. We now had The Looters’ truck; during breakfast the two trucks we had ridden over the mountain slowly rolled up (all of this accommodated, of course, by four 5 gallon cans of fuel from the Looters).

The Colonel set the goals: Load up quickly and head back. And by “load up quickly”, he apparently meant strength and speed.

So I would like to tell you the mechanics of loading and setting up the trucks for transport. But I – and the line that held the bridge – were not there. We were out on the fringes of the development, standing guard. The chances of attack decreased a bit every day, it was explained, but they were not absent until we were gone.

And so I found myself on the fringes of the housing development, looking out from a corner of the house down the long road the led to where The Looters had come from, my rifle and a whistle ready.

It was odd, Lucilius, these complete moment of silence after the events of the previous 48 hours. The silence was mysteriously deafening – and by silence I mean not the complete absence of sound, but the silence of being essentially away from any sort of civilization. A light wind blew, the native grasses rustled. While there was a sense of awareness – necessary for any guard of course – there was not the same sense that was over us as we stood at the bridge. The Looters, if they were still out there, were a threat – but not a “they are coming” threat, but a “they might be out there” threat.

I cannot tell you the amount of time we were out there – two hours, three hours, even four? The sun was well overhead by the time The Leftenant stopped by and called us back in. We met for a quick lunch, then headed back to town.

There was a high level of alert on our way back: men and women marching to either side of the vehicles and/or on the vehicles, an advance guard that went on well before us, a rearguard following behind. The pace was slow but steady, the sun hot but not unbearably so as we made our way back.  As we made our way across the bridge, the wooden cross lashed together  above Blazer Man's grave gave evidence that at least one other person had been there.

We came to the point of the initial ambush – disturbing the vultures that were glutting themselves on the carcasses. The bodies had been laid in rows to either side of road, a warning to those that would advance further.

Our entrance into the town was unremarkable as was our original departure. The trucks stopped and everyone unloaded, the trucks peeling off to some location where the items would be sorted and organized. We continued on, back to the gym where we had only departed a few days before.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in repacking the items that had brought with us and the items we had left. Blazer Man’s things were there; I pulled them together and brought them to The Leftenent – except for his Blazer, which I brought over and asked permission to take with me – which was, of course, granted. In the grand scheme of the modern world, who needs semi-formal wear?

I do, Lucilius. For memories, if for nothing else.

Your Obedient servant, Seneca


  1. Nylon126:01 AM

    Solid post TB although I'm afraid I'm a bit more, separate a couple of heads from the bodies and impale them on branches near the bodies on either side of the road.

    1. Nylon12, I thought about that. My sense is that given everything that was going on, that may not have been the foremost thing on everyone's mind (although I suppose they could go back later). I also do not wonder if the shock of finding out just how far things have slipped has not registered yet.

  2. Given that your walking escort back to homebase. Your homebase is within walking distance, vehicles not required.

    The risk of motivated and or desperate looters is a problem. I'm not clear the season but as described General Winter isn't in effect. Water running in the creek was described, no comment about rime ice and such.

    Don't know if your band burned the looter basecamp or left them with access to shelter, we know water isn't a problem from earlier scenario comments. Food? Decently fed looters even if you hauled away all their supplies are dangerous without food for several days, maybe a week.

    An Army marches on its stomach, somebody said. While you can survive several weeks without food, that predicates little physical effort.

    Interesting times.

    Excellent story line so far, friend. Got the important details, left the excessive out.

  3. If you escorted the vehicles with walking escort, that imply the looter camp is within walking distance of home base.

    As water isn't a problem from earlier scenarios, even if you hauled away all the food of the looters, the survivors can still be a real problem.

    Could get interesting.

    BTW second posting for this subject, something ate my homework?

    A good story line, enjoying it. Enough details without getting excessively gory. Nice job.

    1. Michael - Apparently it did indeed eat your homework; apparently it happened to Bob as well in a previous post today.

      You are right the vehicles were not required; the thought (rightly or wrongly) was to do a single transport of the most highly valuable items. In point of fact the Looters base was not that far (within three miles) of the city which Seneca and the team spent the night over; there is a convenient distance that is unsettled between the two, thus the logic of The Looters (between that and the housing development, it could have been quite lucrative). The distances are based on an actual location.

      From the posting, it is the end of June. You are right that any parties out may not have returned. Given that the community now knows of the resources that can be had, I suspect they will engage in a more forward monitoring in this location. Probably beyond Seneca's purview; this is about 25 miles away from where he lives, so he may only hear rumors. But this is one of the two major access points for any sort of party, looting or otherwise.

      Thanks for the praise! To be honest, I continually struggle with the correct amount of detail to put in these. Glad to hear I am (kind of) hitting the mark.

  4. As the others have said, this is an interesting story and an enjoyable read. I'm always happy to see a new chapter pop up on my feed reader!


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