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 watched the news, it reported outbreaks virulent type of flu that was resistant to standard treatments and inoculations.
My flesh went cold, and it was not from any chill in the room. It was from something I had been told a couple years ago.
I had been briefed on some suspected ex-soviet research scientists who had been found dead in the Middle East. Let's see, that was a little over two years ago. That meant this was most likely a terrorist operation.
The idiots. If they had infected international travelers, then it was not just the US that was being hit. It was probably hitting everywhere.
I made my way out of the store, after quickly making my purchases. I went to the post office and picked up two packages that were sitting there waiting for me. Then I hit the food market. I knew there would be 'runs' on certain items, soon. Thankfully, I had stocked up on most non-perishable items, earlier.
I went out and found Sasha being petted by a couple local kids. I loaded the groceries and looked at her. She loved kids, that's for sure. I finally called a halt to the petting, and told the kids they should find their parents. An important news item had just broken, and most likely their moms and dads would want them close by.
I stopped at the local filling station on the outskirts of town, and filled the Jeep. I also filled the five, five-gallon cans I had brought with me. This would give me a topped off fuel tank in my Jeep. The five cans represented the last twenty-five gallons I needed to complete my collection of cans loaded with gas. I now had a two hundred gallon portable stock of unleaded gas, separated into five-gallon cans. I now wished I had put in that five hundred gallon gasoline tank I had been thinking about. Damn!
I wondered how long the power plant would be producing power, and how long other services would last. I made a quick stop at the local hardware store, and got several extra cans of kerosene for my lamps, as well as some more batteries. I sighed as I considered the immediate future. Things were not looking good. I also added seeds for tomato plants, and other vegetables.
I had a feeling things were going to get really bad before they got better, and travel would be severely restricted, very soon. International flights had already been canceled. On hand supplies would run out, as the transportation system failed to maintain deliveries.
The town always bought supplies in vast quantities, not wanting to run out of things during the winter. Still, it was going to be tight. I listened closely to the local police band radio, which is how I discovered there was going to be a huge town hall meeting. It was to be held at the local school gym, in two days time.
People were encouraged to show up, and get briefed on the steps the town and county were taking to insure the safety of the local citizens. I would have to go, as I did not want any surprises.
It was not good news. The town was going on a rationing schedule. Milk was an item that was going to be reserved for families with very young children, only. Persons would rotate into the grocery store alphabetically.
Fuel was going to be strictly rationed, and if you had some on hand, it was most likely the last you would get for the foreseeable future. Travel into and out of the county was blocked as of last night, and the federal government had already banned interstate travel, in addition to international traveling.
Basically, everyone was locked down in their local areas, in order to try to contain the spread of the bio weapon.
It was definitely an engineered strain of influenza, an offshoot of the great outbreak of the early 1900's. It was ninety percent fatal, and so far there was no known treatment that worked. The Russian government had released to the world what little information was known about this strain. However, in the records they had produced, there was nothing about a treatment. It had been abandoned, even by the former Soviet Union, as being too dangerous to use.
Well, someone had used it. The meeting went on and on, and people were getting angry and frightened. The local emergency services stated they had enough supplies on hand to handle a routine winter. The local doctors and nurses said that they had ordered fifteen percent over their usual winter supplies, since they had come close to running out, last year. It seemed that we were pretty well set for the winter months. As long as there was not a heavy use of medical supplies, they stated, things were good on their end for the present.
There were local outlying farms that were serviced by our town, which helped stretch some perishables. For example, we had a family nearby that raised chickens, and produced a hell of a lot of eggs.
Butter would not be a problem, but would become strictly rationed. Meat would probably be the first commodity to run out. Manufactured and transported goods would be next, such as: toilet paper, sugar, salt, flour, light bulbs, etc.
There was supposed to be a supply point set up outside of the town, a few miles away. Trailers of supplies for the town would be delivered there.
Human contact was studiously avoided by the arriving supply driver. He would simply drop his trailer, and pick up the empty the town had placed at the transfer spot. When he left, the town's driver would take a tractor in, hook up the trailer, and bring the supplies to town. The disease was spread by human contact only, so this was the safest way to operate.
This system worked fairly well for the first couple of months. Then the supplies stopped coming, as the epidemic got worse. As a single person I had taken my turn at the store and the commodities, as had the others, but single people were severely rationed.
First priority went to families with children and the elderly, then couples, and finally us single people. I joined a local watch group, and took my turn tramping through the upper mountains, along with my dogs. I had stocked up on dog food, and I still had a lot. But with no more coming in with the supplies, I was going to run out in a few months. All feed at the feed store was reserved for the few who had cattle and chickens. These people were labeled a priority, since they provided an important food source for our community.
In all honesty, I was much better off than the majority of the locals. I had two separate power sources, and a well provided water. I had a very large supply stash that I was not using heavily yet, and we still had power coming through the main power lines.
The town kept trying to get me to move, along with my dogs to a local area, but I told everyone I would work my area, all I needed was a radio. I was given a base set that had an emergency battery power supply should the electric power fail.
Luckily no one knew of my generator, my five thousand-gallon fuel tank for it, or my personal gas supply. They didn't know of my solar power collector, nor the food and commodity supplies I had stashed away. All they knew about me, was what the local ranger told them. He just said that was I was polite, willing to share a meal if he showed, and did my patrols like clock work up on the mountains with my dogs.
It was midway through the third month, when the power started to fail. At first, the outages were brief and intermittent. Finally though, after a few days of flickering power, it went off and didn't come back. At least, for most people.
It was at this point, that things went downhill fast. In all honesty, I had been surprised that it had lasted as long as it had. I guess the power plant that provided power had finally succumbed to not being manned. That station had to have been operating via computer for some time.
My solar power took over quickly and efficiently. Still, I played it cautiously. I made sure I kept the lights off most of the time. I only turned them on if I knew I was not going to get a visitor. No sense in advertising the fact I had power.
Still, unless someone knew where to look, I was invisible from the road. You had to get close, to see my place through the trees.
Two weeks after the power failed from the electric company, I saw smoke rising from the town. While I could not see much, even with my binoculars, I knew that so much smoke had to represent a huge fire. I made a decision and stuck with it.
I refused to allow anyone on my property, after that. With the exception of the ranger and the vet, I had not ever had any visitors on my place, anyway. The ranger stopped showing up, and the vet had never visited this year at all. I kept a low profile, and stopped going to town. I waited to see what would develop.
I finally outfitted myself for a trip to town. I left one dog, Sasha, to guard the place. I took the other two with me. I drove slowly down the mountain towards town. I went slowly, and stopped frequently to check out the area in front of me.
I finally found a place that overlooked the town. What I saw was indeed a sad site. Most of it was a burned out shell. Bodies lay in the snow on the edge of town and it looked like a war zone.
I could see some people in the distance. Scavengers most likely. I got my rifle out. It was one of my specialty weapons, and had a very powerful scope, and I had zeroed it in, earlier during the emergency.
Post Apocalypse /