I had grabbed as much stuff as I could. With this plague running rampant, I had decided to get away from people, and that meant going to the old cabin. I had already taken a generator up there along with a few other electrical items, as there was no electricity or running water. For light I used kerosene lanterns, usually.
The cabin had three rooms: a bedroom, a living room/dining room, and a kitchen. The kitchen had a pump in it, which was hand operated, provided water for a large sink. Dad had had the water tested years ago, and I'd had it retested just three years ago. It was as pure as you could get. Apparently, it was an endless supply. At least, it had not faltered so far.
To get to the cabin, you had to know where the cutoff was. It was overgrown with greenery, which sprang back into position after I drove through it. I didn't think anyone knew it was there. I made sure to vary my route in as I drove out and in, so I didn't make a trail.
I avoided people. It was self defense actually. The plague was not responding to any of the antibiotics in existence, and people were dying in droves, everywhere. Some outlying communities had cut themselves off and it was a life or death matter to even try to enter one of these islands of civilization.
Months later, the big cities were dead or abandoned. It was as much as your life was worth, to try to approach someone at this point. It was a 'shoot first and ask questions later' style of living. I was guilty of it myself. I had killed three people that I knew of, trying to make sure I didn't get the plague. You just weren't sure when dealing with people.
I was getting low on supplies, so I decided it was time for a scavenging run in the town, a few miles away. It was a dead town, which had once had a population of around fifty thousand. It was a forty-minute drive with my truck, into town. I was in the middle of nowhere, and I liked it that way.
I had been using my generator sparingly, but I was still getting low on fuel. I had only fifteen gallons in cans, and seven gallons in the generator itself. I only used it on really cold days, or to prevent my potbelly stove or kitchen stove from smoking and telling people someone lived out here. The generator allowed me to use the electric heaters I had brought with me.
I could use it for other items, but the more load I placed on it, the more fuel I used. At fifty percent load, the generator would run for twelve hours. The more I plugged into it, the less time it would run on the same amount of fuel.
I had a list of items I wanted to bring back home with me to the cabin. Survival was getting harder. While I still had food enough for a few weeks, I needed to think about the rest of the winter months. Fuel was important, as was food. Of course, I had a whole town to pick from, though a lot of food in the town had spoiled already. Still, there were plenty of canned goods left to choose from.
Of course, it was dangerous making the run. Last time I'd done a run, I'd had to cut it short, and run. I had been shot at by someone. I had been unable to see him or her, and the 'better part of valor', was to survive to fight another day. So, yeah, I ran for it. It had cut off my visit, and that left me short of certain supplies.
With the cold weather setting in, I wanted to stock up on as much food and fuel as I could. I also wanted more cold weather gear, shoes, underwear... the essentials.
I loaded my empty fuel cans into the back of my pickup, and tied them in place. I had fifteen five-gallon cans, altogether. All but three of them were empty. If I were careful, that and what I had on hand should last the winter. I just needed to siphon gas out of one of the local gas station tanks.
I coasted into my favorite parking place, grabbed my binocs, and started searching the edge of town for evidence of people. Nothing. I watched for over an hour, and decided that it was probably clear since no fires or smoke were going or showing.
I made my way back to my truck, and drove to the gas station for the first part of my mission. I opened the access point, dropped the siphon hose in, and began to turn the hand crank. Soon gas was flowing into my truck's tank. I topped it up, and then did the same to my twelve empty cans.
After that, I went cautiously to one of the grocery stores, and loaded a large pallet with cans of food. I made three trips to and from my truck, loading boxes and boxes of food and canned goods. Finally finished, I got out of there.
I didn't breath a sigh of relief until I was close to home. I kept thinking I was going to be shot the entire time I was driving. I had seen that happen before. After I got close to home, I stopped again and looked over the area carefully. When I felt confident that no one was around, I got back into my truck and made the turn off. Shortly I was unloading my supplies and felt good about this load. It would last me all winter, if I was careful.
It was going to snow soon. Clouds were building up, and I wanted to make a final run to the propane tank farm. I had a propane tank with a three-burner heater, and it warmed a room nicely, but it used the gas at a prodigious rate. I wanted extra tanks. Another plus was you could use it indoors and it was safe. A little moist maybe, but safe.
First thing I did after scoping out the town, was to get more toilet paper. I got several boxes of it, and then a few more foodstuffs. Then I headed for the propane tank farm. I grabbed six 25-pound tanks, and got back home just before the snow started. I sighed. I didn't want to leave tracks, so I was stuck for the foreseeable future at the cabin.
Snow was falling heavily. The only thing that would have made it perfect, would have been if I'd had indoor plumbing. Damn, but it was cold out there! Sitting on that wooden toilet seat was a shocking experience, so I disconnected the seat, and brought it inside the cabin with me. If I took it out with me, as needed, I wouldn't 'freeze my butt off', again.
After taking care of the restroom problem, I fired up the stove and the kitchen warmed up nicely. I was going to make a very good meal. I was no longer worried someone would spot the smoke, as it was dark outside, now.
I started the potbelly stove in the dining/living room, and let that start heating it up in there. I opened my bedroom door, and wheeled in a propane tank. I hooked it to the three-burner heater, and lit the heater. I set it on low. The cabin was warming nicely and the kitchen was comfortable now, from the Franklin stove.
I lit two Aladdin lamps. Each of them provided as much light as a sixty-watt light bulb. I placed one in the living room, and set one in the kitchen. I made bread, and heated some stew. I also had a can of corn for my vegetable. I sighed as I ate, thinking I should have gotten more butter. I had two sticks left.
For two days it snowed, but I felt very comfortable in my 'nest'. I was warm, using one of my propane tanks during the day turned on low. I fired up my fireplace, pot bellied stove, and kitchen stove at night, warming the cabin nicely.
I was going to have to chop a little more wood from my woodpile into kindling for the kitchen stove, pretty soon. I dreaded that job, but it had to be done. I had a small kerosene heater which I used to heat coffee or a can of soup during the day. I ate the bread I had made a few days ago with it. Nothing beats homemade bread.
I looked at my supplies stacked up against walls, and was pleased. The cupboards were filled to overflowing, and I had wall-to-wall supplies. That even included my bedroom. I was set for the next few months, anyway.
I sighed. Time for another run to the outhouse. Damn, but it was cold outside! I took a flashlight with me, as it was getting dark, and a handgun. Never knew when you would need protection. There were wild packs of dogs, and other animals out there, that would attack a man if they were hungry enough. Hell, I had even seen a large cat, a cougar I think.
While I was outside taking care of business, I thought I heard the faint sound of an engine.
I listened closely, and sure enough, I had. Sound carries really well in the dark, and I was definitely hearing an engine.
I made sure no light showed out of my cabin, and then went back in. Damn! Someone was driving on the old state road, if I could hear them. I had heavy curtains hanging on all the windows. Basically, they were meant to keep the drafts controlled, but they also kept light from getting out. I had sheets hanging over the front door of the cabin, since I had discovered an air leak I had been unable to repair. That took care of the door draft.
I made sure my rifle was loaded as well as my pistol and revolver. I had a nine shot Berretta 7mm pistol, and a Colt .45 double action revolver. I loaded a couple extra clips for the pistol, and kept a box of shells handy for both my rifle and revolver. If I was discovered, whoever did so would regret it for as long as they lived, which would not be long. I ate a cold meal that night, of cheese and bread. I cooked some coffee to go with it, though.
Tonight I was not going to fire up my stoves or the fireplace, or the potbelly. I was going to rely on my propane tank and burners, alone. The cabin was pretty chilly, but better that, than be discovered. I was worried about visitors. I didn't sleep well that night. Every sound brought me to 'full alert wakefulness'.
The next morning, I went out the back door of the cabin, after I had dressed in my cold weather gear. I had my rifle in hand, as I went to check the area.
No foot prints but my own. I started a trail through the foot and a half of fresh fallen snow. I went by a round about way, to the road.
As I made my cautious way through the snow, I found the tracks of several types of animals. I paused. Damn, I thought that one was a bear. Shit, that's all I needed. If it was, I was going to have to kill it to make sure it didn't get me, or screw with the cabin. A bear could take the door off the hinges, or easily break a window.
I made my way through the brush, to check the road. I looked, and found fresh tracks in the snow, made by a vehicle of some sort, that had passed recently.
Large tires made the tracks look like the vehicle had traveled easily though the snow. The tires were extra wide, making me think 'truck', or 'four-wheel vehicle'. Evidence of another vehicle following the first was there, also. Were they traveling as a group? Was the second following the first for some reason? I just didn't know.
I looked both ways and waited to see if anyone was coming, or if I could hear anything. No one came, and I heard nothing. I carefully made my way back to the cabin, taking care that my tracks could not be seen from the road.
The cabin was warm when I got back, or seemed that way to me. I had fired up my propane tank, and turned the burners up. I had the burners sitting in a metal bracket off of the floor, so it was safe to let them burn in the cabin, unwatched.