I had built this retreat over five years ago. It was only a year and a half ago I had gotten power and phone service run to it. I had built high in the mountains, and I did everything in my power to make sure it was not advertised, and that it was well hidden from view.
It was a rustic looking log and stone home and blended in, but looks can be deceiving. It was one and a half stories. The loft gave me access to a water tank that was stored up near the roof. It was a thousand gallon tank. It would last for quite some time, if I was careful. I changed out that water on a regular basis. It was for emergencies when I had no power at all. Gravity and weight provided all the pressure I would need to use it. Otherwise, I drew water from a well that was over two hundred feet deep. Good clean water, too.
That was only one of the items my home had, that was not regularly placed in a home. I had a diesel generator that could provide power for the entire house, if I wanted it to. There was a five thousand gallon tank of fuel for it. I also had solar panels collecting power for me, everyday. Even cloudy days contributed to the power of the house, so my electric bill was never very high.
All power lines running to the house were buried and out of site. It had cost me like hell to do it that way, but I did not want my presence here known. Oh, some knew I was here, but not many. Most who knew me at all, knew me by another name, entirely.
I had a very dangerous profession. I was very good at it. I was thirty-two years old, and this was going to be my retirement home. It was also built for long-term independent survival.
I was an assassin by profession, and a damned good one. One of the best in the world if I do say so myself.
Winter was coming, and I decided I was going to spend it at my mountain retreat. I made sure my finances were in order, rechecked my investments, and told everyone I was going south for the winter.
I am not sure what motivated me to do it, but I got out my specialty trailer, and hooked it up to my Jeep Cherokee. The first thing I did was detach the inside wall at the back of the trailer. I took my three best rifles and two best pistols, and placed them in the specially built rack I had mounted in there. On either side of the rack were places to put box after box of ammunition for them.
After the ammunition slots on either side were filled, I then replaced the inside wall. No one would ever know I had guns and ammo back there. Since I was not going across an international border, I did not fill the gun rack space with a peculiar gas. There was no need to cover the smell that specially trained dogs could pick up, from the ammo.
I filled the remainder of the trailer with food supplies, and other items I thought I would find useful. I loaded some clothing into the back of the Jeep, and finally, I loaded the traveling kennel in the rearmost section. I then got my three Rottweilers into it. They were three years old, and very well trained. I never go anywhere without them, if I am not on a job. They are a good security system, and are very loyal.
It took me most of a day to drive to the retreat, but I got there all right. I stopped several times to let my dogs stretch their legs, and answer nature's call. While they cooperated with me, and went back into the carriers, they really didn't like them.
I got to the turn off to my mountain home, and it looked as though no one had been over the road in ages. I smiled, as I thought that was a good thing. It was a dirt road. I kept it looking rough and badly maintained, so people would not think it well traveled or even much used. I also had put up a 'road closed' sign. A little further along the road, were my big 'private property', and 'no trespassing' signs.
I drove up to the house and stopped. I got out, and opened the rear of my Jeep and let the dogs out. They loved it here, always had when I had brought them in the past. They went out and started nosing around. I knew they would not wander far. As I said, they were very well trained.
I opened the house and let it air out. Unpacking took a while. It was already chilly... Hell, it was downright cold at this altitude, and it was only late afternoon. It usually snowed very early, just a couple thousand feet above me. When I got snow, it nearly always fell heavily. I looked and saw that snow had already fallen up there, so I knew I would be getting hit myself, soon.
I plugged in the refrigerator, and thought I would make a trip to the local market in the nearest town to stock it. I looked in the pantry, and it was just as I remembered it. I had restocked it before I had left, the last time I had been here. I moved in more supplies, mostly rice and beans.
Rice kept forever and it was high in protein content. If you didn't mind learning a few diverse recipes, it could taste very good indeed, without becoming boring. I went to the circuit breaker panel that was also in the pantry, and turned on everything. The basement was on a separate circuit. It kept the central heat on at fifty-eight degrees. It had been the only power being used in the house, until I arrived.
Tomorrow, I would go into town and get the perishables for the refrigerator. I also reminded myself to check out the small diesel generator, and make sure it was ready for winter. I would have to run it for a while, but that should present no problems. I could even put a load on it. It would be easy enough to disconnect my solar panels and the power from the power company, for a while. The generator would take the load easily.
The season's first snowfall was always beautiful. I sat in my living room and watched as it came down. I had been at the 'retreat' as I tended to think of it, for almost three weeks, and had settled in nicely. So had my three dogs, Sasha, Tasha, and Misha. The second day I had been there, a local ranger showed up to see if the place was burning. A forestry service watchtower had noted the position of smoke rising from my place, and sent someone to check on it. I had forgotten to notify them I was back. Smoke from the fireplace chimney had attracted their attention.
Everyone here knew me as a security consultant, and under an assumed name. I did
have all the documentation for it, though. This was thanks to several helpful federal
agencies, which had used my services in the past. They had also gotten me licensed for
some very exotic firearms, and had helped me get a 'concealed carry permit' for this and
various other states. I did have a few items stashed away, which were not sanctioned.
Sasha was the alpha female. Besides protecting the house, she also roamed the property. She had taken on duties of keeping small critters away from the sheds, and anywhere I went on my property. I could swear she was almost human sometimes.
I had a collection of books to keep me entertained on long winter days and nights, or I could work on my hobby. That was one reason I had not retired yet. My hobby was very expensive.
I had a special filter set up in my computer/hobby room. It kept the air very clean indeed. I loved to mess with electronics, and that could run into money. I made unscramblers, and scramblers, and installed a twenty-four inch dish, just to see what kind of reception I could get. I knew where there were some of the satellites were located, and the signals I could pull in were very good. Best of all, they were free.
Well, it took time to build the equipment, and that was an investment, but I had latched onto some 'very interesting' television channels. I also had some equipment that the government would frown at me having, as it gave me access to military bands. I think much of it was illegal in 'unauthorized hands', ie: mine.
It had snowed again last night, which meant I had to make a trip outside. I would go to the solar collectors and clean them off and make sure they were free of snow. I now had over a foot and a half of fresh snow on the ground, and several paths to clear.
Two hours later I had the snow cleared from the solar panels, the generator housing, and the garage. I had also cleared a path to the incinerator because I had yet another load of trash to burn. I was going to burn this week, as I did not have a regular trash service. I was totally independent of external needs, except food. I collected the cans and dropped them in town every once in a while, at a collection point. They seemed happy to get them.
Sweet Water was a little mountain town, which had been around for over a hundred and thirty years. It had once serviced a mine or two, but now it took care of the homes and people in the local area, and even had a brief tourist season.
That was where I bought all my food. Well... the perishables, anyway. I decided on a trip to town, and locked the house.
I left Misha and Tasha guarding the inside of the house, and took Sasha into town with me. She was well trained, and the few people in town who knew me, liked her a lot. The kids loved to pet her, and sometimes I let them play with her. Sasha treated kids like overgrown puppies, and would never harm one.
I ran a few errands, and Sasha waited patiently outside whatever store I went into. It was during one of these visits, that something strange happened.
The EBS (emergency broadcasting system) broke into all normal programming. It warned people that a health crisis had been identified, and was spreading rapidly. People were being asked to avoid traveling. We were warned to avoid contact with other people, particularly those who had traveled recently on international trips, within the past three days.
Damn, sounded like someone or some group had infected people, and now it was spreading. As we all w...