When the power went out, we knew it wouldn't be coming back. We still had a hand-cranked radio, and the news we were getting was pretty bad. The dollar was now worth far less than the paper it was printed on, wherever people were still keeping count. General unrest had become full-blown rioting in most urban areas. The eastern and western national power grids had gone down a week ago, one after the other. The Texas grid had remained up the longest, but nothing lasts forever. Radio stations went out the next day, for the most part. KPFT stayed up for a full week after power was lost in Houston, and they still had a satellite link. I'm not sure whether those guys are heroes or idiots, for burning so much fuel to keep their station running for a week, right at the beginning of winter. Everyone could have used that gas.
In sub-tropical Texas, you usually don't give much consideration to it. This year was different. When the mercury dropped down below freezing, things took on a whole new feeling. Jackie and Garett and Kat and I still had some food, but we were beginning to run low. What we did have, Garett pointed out, was ammunition and weapons. I'm not sure how I feel about this plan.
"We have two options, the way I see it." This is Kat speaking to the group. "We find people willing to give us room and board in exchange for our services, i.e. hired guns. Or, we go take what we want from people, using our guns." Trust Kat to get it out in the open, but we still have to make the decision.
"Fuck, are we really thinking about stealing from people?" This from Garett's girlfriend, Jackie, the most recent addition to this merry little band. "Would you prefer starving?" Kat asks sweetly.
I speak up. "Item: It's twenty-seven degrees outside and sleeting. It's not like we're going anywhere soon. Two, we aren't a mile off the I-45 corridor. We have bigger problems. When the weather does warm up, there is gonna be a shit-ton of refugees moving through. And C, we still need to plan where we go before we figure what to do, right?"
This isn't a bad point. Aside from our clothes, we have: An SKS rifle, with about two hundred rounds for it, a Mini-14 with about fifty rounds, a twelve gauge shotgun with twenty shells, and a .357 with maybe fifty rounds. Not much of an arsenal. Add to this about a week's worth of canned food and many odds and ends. (Plus, of course, my own undisclosed hold-outs. You never know, after all.) Stir into the mix four college students, and freeze for one week. Serve chilled.
The last week has been hard for the quartet. When we met up, my supplies were stretched a tad bit further than I had anticipated. We linked up at the community college at 242 and I-45, and now we're sheltering in an apartment south of 242 near Sawdust.
"Let's get some sleep, we can get a move on tomorrow. I'll take first watch." I say. The lantern is extinguished, and I settle in for two hours of guard duty with my SKS. With any luck, tomorrow we can get into the backwoods, away from the city.
The morning is greeted by three sleepers, and Garett making our meager breakfast on a camp stove. The other two and I come awake once the sun shines into the apartment we're sheltering in. The sleet must have stopped during the night, after I turned watch over to Jackie. For reasons unknown to me, I am now being looked to as leader. Perhaps it's because I had my shit together when this all started.
Garett asks "What's the plan?" Well-"We have to get out of the city. It's a mad-house out there already. We need to go to an area with low population density. North and then east. I was thinking somewhere in the hill country." Who says ad-lib is tough? Besides, my family fucked off in that general direction a week ago, and I need to stop at Texas State on the way to the RP. I've got a cache there.
To my surprise, there is little argument. Breakfast (some oatmeal, and the very last eggs we figured we'd see for a while) is consumed, and our backpacks are re-packed. Everything we can't carry will be left behind. We don't have any gas, and it's going to be a long walk to San Marcos. We make it out the door, and the plan goes out the window.
Shots ring out, and we break into a run.