en o'clock in the morning rolled around much quicker than William realized, and he soon had to get word to the Four to assemble in the LMA planning room.  The room had been so designated because it was the new Patriot Gentleman's Club; and where they did all their planning.

Recruitment had fallen off even further as communications all but disappeared.  All electricity in the city was off with exception of a few of the wealthier homes having adequate protection, could keep fuel to power their gens.  Many had solar and wind generators which would keep the batteries charged from which household power was obtained.

Many of them had solar heating as well, solar water distilling, and most had their own water wells.  Outside of maintaining the equipment and fending off attack after attack, their world had not changed very much with the exception of dwindling food.

But let down on one corner of your guard, and the thugs would be in on you.  It happened every day.  More and more 'castles' were falling everyday.  It was merely just a matter of time before they would all be taken.

There was no way to get a number count on the casualties.  Militias had organized and marched off to war against the military of their own country.  Most of the military battalions were commanded by men of lesser knowledge and qualifications thanks to the military purges of the king of stupid himself.

Commanded by such, they were no match for even a small militia.  The military detachments, many times, were no where near the fighting strength of the foreign armies.  Nor as strong as the "thug" or "domestic" militias they sought to eradicate thus giving the homespun "redneck" militias the greater advantage.

Women and children were left in groups to fend for themselves while their men fought to re-establish order in their beloved America.  Young boys and girls grew up almost overnight, having to learn to fight, learn about weaponry, managing household chores and other things that were so different than just a few short months ago.

Before the fall of the economy, children languished lazily in front of television, chunking out, knowing nothing about how to live or fend for themselves or even how to work.  Many of them obese, soft, unable to even think for themselves would die off quickly.  The Muslims and the Wetback cartels usually spoke their intentions with a gun.  The softies and obese wouldn't even be taken captive because they were worthless for work as slaves, and the men of these factions certainly were not kind and bound by political correctness, so they stated their opinion of overweight people usually with a bullet.

Many were slaughtered like so many worthless animals.  Parents of these same children, most of the time obese and soft themselves, were slaughtered alongside their offspring.  If you could not provide a service for the one in charge, what warranted that you live?  To be a burden on their group was unacceptable.  To leave them alive to possibly come back and fight against them, was not a viable option.

It was amazing how drastically peoples lives were changed.  They didn't have to worry about smoking because there was nothing to smoke.  Or drink, or, do drugs, or even eat for that matter.  There was nothing like that to be had!  If you were obese and you lived past the first six months, you would certainly enjoy the weight loss.  But then you face another problem.  Clothing.  Not only were there no new clothes, there were very little clothes to be had at all nor any way to alter them.  Those alive had no qualms about stripping a corpse for the clothes.

William was brought back around to the current event of Sharon approaching the Four with her idea.  None of the men had a clue as to what she had in mind, and actually, were a little annoyed and even fearful of what she would ask them to do.  They all loved Sharon a great deal, and most of them would do almost anything she asked, that is, as long as it wasn't woman stuff . . .

They just hoped she didn't ask too much!  They were brought back from their own individual thoughts by her marching to the front by the chalkboard.  She cleared her throat to gain the last latecomers attention, then spoke.

"I've asked the Four here today to approach you for help with a problem which has arisen within my division of the complex."  She paused, and judging by the look on the faces of the men, she was losing them and fast.  The time for niceties was over.  It was time to go straight for the jugular.

She began again.  "That problem, is this.  My girls have become very bored, and I'm having a problem keeping them entertained.  I want to have a dance!" she added excitedly.  The men sat looking at her with poker faces.

"Wow, that sure didn't go over very well," she thought to herself.  Then she continued.  "We have music on a recorder I found and it would be a nice break from all the death and killing and shooting and the monotony as well.  Besides, I think it would be good for the morale of the men to have a little bit of companionship.  And, the most important thing:"

The frowns on the faces of the men discouraged her.  "My girls are wanting to get into the battle as well, and they want to do something to aid in the fight.  They want to learn how to fight hand to hand.  They want to learn about guns and how to shoot.  And they want to start a garden."

William rolled his eyes then stood up after a few seconds of contemplation on her ideas, and said "OK Sharon.  We will consider this and kick it around to see what we can come up with."

"Hear hear!" a couple of the men were on board.  Remember now, these were men above or right at fifty years old.  Old enough to be grandpa to many of these ladies.

But, the thought kind of settled in good with them, and soon the plans were made to help in these matters.

The Patriot Complex was extremely nice in that it had its own underground firing range as well as a gym in which to train to keep up their physical fitness.  Schedules would be drawn up and teachers of the various classes were assigned.  Within a week, most of the rough spots had been ironed out and the classes were getting on quite nicely.

William had a feeling the men in the Generals group, who were much younger, some in their early twenties, would cotton to a dance.  But, they would have to be careful as all the Old Patriots would have their eyes peeled.  The Old Patriots used to be young once as well!

The only thing that worried William was the garden.  He had no idea as to how to come up with a garden spot which would be safe from marauders and the garden itself safe from foragers, animal and human alike and thus, discovery of the bunker complex.  The motion detectors and camera systems were constantly going off as people roamed the woods in search of anything of use as it was.  A garden was just out of the question.

The line of wrecked cars disappeared quite fast when they were discovered.  From the actions of the people who came from time to time, it did not appear as if anyone had discovered the hideout.

From time to time, William would experience different emotions.  He felt unworthy of enjoying the vast complex, and thanked the good Lord for his good fortune.  Most outside had it extremely rough, and here he was, quite safe and happy he had a roof over his head.  Winter was fast approaching, and he worried for all the folks out there who had nothing.

Many had been rounded up and taken away to the FEMA camps.  William had observed two of the FEMA camps, and wondered what their real use was.  It was very plain to see, if you were in a FEMA camp, you were NOT leaving.  It didn't matter what your reason was.  You were in there for your own protection, and, you were informed in no uncertain terms, you ARE gonna stay here.

A shudder went up the spine of William as he remembered things he had read, some were articles by conspiracy theorists, and quite radical, some even to unbelievable.  Some, not quite so radical, made quite a bit of sense, and according to what he had read, the conspiracy theorists had been square on.

The biggest problem facing anyone at this juncture was temperature.  People died of hypothermia all the time when it was only 55 degrees.  How could that be?  Quite simple.  Hungry, weak, no protection from the cold.  Very possibly sick.  Perhaps wet with dew.  People even in the FEMA camps were dying.  But, that is the reason they were taken there in the first place.  The bottom line: genocide.

William was also saddened by those who had spent much time in preparation of these very times.  Survivalist exploiters were getting rich in the years prior to the fall selling the things that would carry you and your family through safe and sound with very little hardship.  Things like packages which contained enough seed to grow several acres of fresh food.  People looked past all the truth to see plentiful gardens, green, beautiful, with an abundance of food.

But they never saw the ground having to be broken up, the seeds planted, weeded, watered, and protected, cultivated, then harvested, then stored.  They didn't see the hundreds that would be salivating to get their hand on your food.  They didn't see common and ordinary good folks who would now kill for something to take back to their own starving families.

Many bought and hoarded food for years and years, only to find it had spoiled by the time it was needed.  Or, marauding thugs breaking into your fortress and taking what they wanted or could carry and then simply destroying the rest.  Or, being forced out of your home and leaving all your supplies.  Whatever you had that was worth anything, others who wanted it worse than you would gladly ease your misery with a well placed knife blade.

The ultimate plan for survival was simply this.  Hide, protect, gather.  Hiding was simply a much harder feat to accomplish than people would believe.  Simply because one leaves a footprint, a trail.  To keep warm you need fire.  Fire causes smoke.  Smoke is a direct path to your location the same as daily bodily functions.

If you are running a generator, those sounds carry sometimes for miles.  Thugs and people can follow the sound directly to your hideout.  If you use the latrine, you will leave evidence.  People do not realize scent carries.  Many times I've smelled cigarette smoke for a thousand feet.  Anyone interested in finding you, can smell your latrine; a long way.  Then there's always the possibility of someone simply stumbling upon you.  And it will be at the most inopportune time imaginable.

From time to time, the feeling of the dark cloud of the unknown owner of the bunker facility would settle down on him.  He had asked the General about it a couple of times, but the General was not sharing his knowledge.  This bothered William.  What could he do?  Take his wife and go?  Hardly.

During their missions, William was most contented.  He worried little about the bunker complex, especially now that the girls literally had a fighting chance not only with guns, but hand to hand combat as well.  The missions which kept them busy for the most part were military in many ways, but in other ways, civil in that they helped every complex around there for miles.

They had distributed the remote communications transceivers to locations as far as thirty miles away which was near the limit of their reach.  There were some of the larger homes considered as castles which had stood, and some of them had either ham or citizens band (CB) radios.  Their distance varied greatly, sometimes being effected by weather patterns.

Every once in a while William heard a plane circle around, and it always bothered him.  He recognized the sound of it and it was always the same.  He had a sneaking idea that who ever was in that plane had connection to the ownership of the bunker complex.  One day he figured he would come face to face with the owner of the facility, and he would not like who it was.

He would learn the identity of the man who had ownership of the property sooner than he thought.  And the surprise would be hand delivered.  Not only did he own this bunker, but several others identical to it!

And, he also owned the Hanoi Hilton!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter XIX