As I drove home from work I realized that something was wrong. I live in a neighborhood where children are always running around and there is some noise or movement, but today was different. As I made the left on to my street I reached over and muted the radio and realized that the only sound was coming from my vehicle as I drove slowly towards my house. Usually there are cars parked along the street and I quickly noticed that there was 1 or maybe 2 where usually there are twenty. Something was definitely not right.
I pulled up to my house and saw that my wife's car was there, "Good, maybe she will know whats up" I said out loud to myself. As I stopped I saw that my garage door was only half open, and there were some kind of drag/scuff marks along the bottom edge, at this point my senses were telling me something was "Just not right" and I reached down and pulled out my Walther PPS .40 cal pistol (I keep my CCW stuffed down next to my seat when I am driving most of the time) I racked a round in the chamber, yanked the emergency brake, left the car running in neutral and got out to investigate.
The second I shut the door behind me a putrid stench hit me like a ton of bricks....It smelled like that 2 month old possum you run across while walking down the side of a country road, but somehow worse....It seemed to come from everywhere at once, there was no escaping it. So I did what almost every suburban living person would have done, and I contributed my lunch to the ground next to my feet.
With tears in my eyes, and still fighting back the urge to vomit more, I continued to my garage to try and get inside away from the horrid smell. I ducked under the garage door, and realized that the smudge marks were some sort of brown gelatinous type substance, and was contributing to the smell emanating from everywhere. As my eyes adjusted to the dark I saw that my garage had been trashed. Stuff was strewn everywhere, but after a quick look strangely enough it seemed like everything was still there. "This is no burglar" was my initial thought, but then again what burglar would leave behind brown goo that smelled like the end of the world?
Pistol at the ready I kicked open the door between the garage and my entry way, and all hell broke loose. With a gluttural snarl what I thought was my wife charged me from across the kitchen. Its a straight hallway style kitchen, and luckily she was at the other end of it, because she, or it as I call her now was hauling ass towards me. With a flash of broken teeth she let out a shrill screech and my Walther PPS barked out 2 sharp reports. The 1st shot took her in the nose which stood her up straight and she paused for a second, the second took the top of her head off, and she went down in a thunderous crash next to the refrigerator. I followed her to the ground with my Walther's sights and stood there breathing heavy, blinded by tears waiting for her to move again. The garage door slammed shut behind me, almost making me discharge another round. I was a literal mess. I was blind from the smell and crying, I had just blown what was my wife’s head off, and I had no idea where my daughters were. I could only say a quick "Please God let them be ok" and I knew I had to search the house and try to find the rest of my family.
I turned the corner to go in to my living room, and complete carnage is what hit me square in the guts. Lying in the middle of my living room floor was a pile of dead or dying animals. My dogs were all there, and they were all ripped to pieces. Kenzington my black lab was laying in a pile of her own half eaten entrails, its like someone had taken a butcher knife and sliced her to shreds and then had a feast. When she saw me her tail thumped the floor a few times, and I could see in her eyes she knew what was going to happen. I knelt next to her, my tears a constant patter on the floor, and put her out of her misery. My other 2 dogs were already gone, but I could see bits and pieces of them strewn about the pit that used to be my living room. The odd thing is that behind the mess in my living room it was completely clear, it was like the animals..."Oh my God!" the animals were protecting something! I sprinted up the stairs and ripped open my youngest daughter’s bedroom, and she was nowhere to be found, frantically I called out her and my oldest daughters name "Theren...Raegan...it's Daddy, where are you?" listening closely I cleared the next room, not really knowing what to expect, and praying that my girls were alive. I heard a whimper and saw my oldest daughter’s closet door move ever so slightly. I ran over and ripped it open, and with the Walther leading the way, I saw Reagan’s feet sticking out from under a pile of blankets and stuffed animals. She leapt out at me and gave me a huge hug, and was instantly in tears. I can only imagine what was going on in her six year old mind, and it infuriated me. I sat there trying to calm her down and reassure her that we were going to be fine, but she was too far in to shock to talk out of it. I asked her where her sister was, and all I could get out of her was "Daddy, Mommy was mean to her". Again I found myself stricken with grief, tears flowing freely down my face, snot making it hard to breathe and talk, I knew I had to do something, my little girl was counting on me to protect her, and that was what I was going to do.
We raced down stairs to the basement where all of my guns and our Bug out gear were located. In my mind I wanted to take it all, but I knew there was no way. I grabbed my Olive Drab Bug out bag, and my daughters princess bug out bag (She had to be like daddy, and even though it was a princess bag, it carried her essentials.) I grabbed my Springfield xDM .40, my Glock 22RTF and about 250 rounds for them, and then ran up stairs as fast as I could. I knew if I had to I could return for some more serious firepower, but I wanted to make sure to take something. It may not help much, but having some firepower was a mental boost that I badly needed. As I ran through the garage I remembered I had packed a small cooler with some meat for a picnic we were planning, and not knowing when we would be able to get more food, I stopped and grabbed that out of my 2nd refrigerator. We ran out to the car, and I loaded Raegan in, and tossed the gear in. Thankfully I left the car running, because out of the corner of my eye I saw some more of the "things" shambling our way. I ran around to the driver’s side, and slammed in to something at knee level. I did a complete flip, and hit hard flat on my back. Luckily I had managed to keep a hold on my Walther, because my very flesh hungry neighbor tried to dive on top of me and take a bite out of my chest. She took two to the head, and was dead weight on top of me. I heard my little girl screaming inside the car, I flung the body off me, and jumped up. Through the windows I could see two of the neighbor boys clawing at the side of the car trying to get inside. I threw the door open, slammed it in reverse, dumped the e break and floored it. There were several thumps, and I could see that I was mowing down the population that used to be my neighbors and their children. As we sped down the street I had to swerve to miss at least 10 others, as I didn't want to damage my car and make it un-drivable. Note to self for the future, if there is a future....Scion xB's are not a good bug out vehicle.
Before I knew it we were out of the city and in to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. My destination was Pike National Forest, our family's planned bug out location. There is enough wildlife, water, and shelter able areas there, that we knew we could live there for a long time if the need arose. Sometimes the truth sucks, but I am glad we had at least taken the time to choose a place to flee to.
We arrived sometime after dark; I can't really remember the time as everything seemed to be a blur at this point. I will try to remember it how it went, but please forgive me if I cannot remember all the details. I realized I had my camera in my Bug out Bag, so I started snapping pictures as well to document as much as I could. After marching through the mountainside as much as we could in the middle of the night, we found a decently protected area surrounded by large rocks. They offered some shelter on our sides, so all we really had to do was watch the front of our campsite area for intruders.
First things first, we needed some light, and I wanted a fire. The light and the moral boost that a fire can bring was much needed at this point for myself, and for my daughter.
I broke out the fire steel and after a few attempts got a decent fire going so I could continue on with the other preparations we needed, mainly shelter.
I got the fire going well enough, and made sure that Raegan stayed close to me, we were out in the middle of the Rocky Mountains but there was no way I was letting my guard down, who knew what those things were capable of?
It wasn't much for shelter, but it goes up fast, and will protect us from rain or wind if we run across that, it’s too bad it didn't come with a zombie proof lining. I used to say that as a joke to my wife when we would go camping, how sick is it that I was really praying for that now?
Being six she wasn't really sure what was going on, I am not sure if that was a smile because she was at ease or a smile because she knew I was on the verge of a breakdown, and I needed to see some happiness on her face. Either way I managed to snap a picture of it, and used it to keep going over the next few days.
We sat near the fire for most of the night, keeping it pretty small, not wanting to put off a lot of light to give away our location to anything that might be out there. Every few minutes I would shine my pistol light out in to the forest to make sure that we were alone. We mostly sat in silence, staring lost in to the flames of our little fire, searching for a shred of humanity in what was left of our shattered lives. After what must have been hours I realized that Raegan was asleep with her head on my leg. I quickly set up a makeshift tripwire with the para-cord from my bug out bag – it may not stop something, but at least I would hear it if it got tangled up….hopefully.
We retired to the tent for the night, and even though I tried to stay awake, I was so exhausted that the last thing I remember was the dying flicker of our little fire.
I woke up to a rustling sound, and grabbed my xDm .40 and jumped up ready to fight. My daughter stood just inside the tent, with the door half unzipped with a startled look on her face “I just need to go potty Daddy, and you were so tired I didn’t want to wake you up” I said honey, you make sure to wake me up from now on, we don’t go anywhere without each other” She shook her head that she understood, and we both stepped outside into the morning light to see what the day would bring us.
After taking a look around and making sure we were alone, I was hit by another wave of exhaustion and hunger. I always make sure to keep some type of caffeine in my bug out bag, as I know it can boost morale, and help keep me alert when I need it. I pulled out my little survival stove, and got to boiling some water so I could make some Yerba Mate tea.
The stove worked very well, it took about 3 minutes, and we had a nice steaming cup of Yerba Mate, not only was the hot liquid good for the mind, it was a nice refreshing energy boost as well.
(The flip flops are also a staple in my bug out bag, they are great for when your shoes/boots are wet and you need something to wear while they dry – hence why I am wearing them! Wet shoes are no good for the mind or the body!)
Knowing we had bare minimum to live on until who knew when, I knew we had to find a water source. We had 2 Nalgene type bottles that were filled when we left our house, and both of those were nearly empty. I grabbed my BOB, and Raegan and I set out in search of water.
We hiked for quite a while, resting when we needed to, drinking what little water we had left when we absolutely had to trying to keep our heads in it, and get what we needed.
Finally after what seemed like days we came around a large rock, and down in a ravine we found liquid gold. It wasn’t as deep as I would have liked, but it was wet, somewhat clear, and had a good flow to it.
We both rinsed the grime off of us from the previous day’s events, and then while Raegan searched for fish and anything else we could eat, I got out the water filter, and steri-pen and made sure we had plenty of water to drink for the next 24 hours.
I must say that the water that comes out of my little Katadyn filter tastes a heck of a lot better than the city water I was used to. And even though I really didn’t like the city water taste, I would kill for a taste of it right now, because that would mean things would be normal again. Would things ever be normal again? I guess we would have to make sure we found out!
After we hiked back to our base camp and made sure it was secure, it was time to prepare lunch and start cooking dinner as well. Ramen was on the menu for our lunch, something quick and easy so we could stay focused on our surroundings.
Raegan actually made the ramen for us, while I got the pork loin that I had in the little blue cooler I had managed to snag out of the fridge ready to cook near the fire.
A few hours later we had what would probably be our last home style cooked meal for a long time ready to eat.
Suddenly I had a funny thought, the whole situation reminded me of that song “My Grandma and your Grandma were sittin by the fire….My Grandma said to your Grandma I’m gonna set your flag on fire”…. I know it sounds strange, but when you are pushed to your limits, and have just seen half of your family die, you think of some really weird and random shit.
Here are a few random shots I took of some of our gear while I tried to make the days go by faster
Our bug out bags:
Our most often used tools: Ontario SPAX, and Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto knife:
And our supplies that we had in our bags: Mountain house, Starbucks VIA, Yerba Mate Tea, Ramen, spices (salt and pepper) and some snacks. As well as vet wrap, and hygiene products:
As time passed and our food supply dwindled I realized that we were going to need to head to civilization to resupply. With a pistol I really couldn’t hunt for too much food, and the creek we were getting our water supply from seemed void of anything but water bugs, and it was going to take a whole lot of those to keep us fed. After I talked to Raegan and explained what happened, we decided we needed to hike our stuff to the car, and try to make it in to a town to gather some food, and possibly something to hunt with.
Last shot of our little temporary home before we tore it down.
Raegan letting me know she was ready for any action that may come our way:
(Disclaimer: The pistol is an Airsoft pistol, that was very unloaded, and not gassed up. This shot was for comedic purposes only….although I think she could put down some Zeds if she had to!)
After snapping a few more pics of our surroundings, we had the car reloaded, and we were ready to make our cautious but much needed trek back towards civilization.
Just as we finished loading the car, I checked the front seat and found something ironic sitting there almost mocking me as I stared in disbelief:
The drive back to civilization was very uneventful. It was as if everyone had disappeared, or as I thought, “Maybe they were all eaten?” I know ridiculous right? But like I said before when you have gone through what we have in the last few days, you think of some really really weird shit. The mind is a powerful thing, and that can be good or bad.
I can’t really tell you all of what happened after that, I remember the drive being a blur, exhaustion was taking its toll, my mind was running wild, and I kept hearing a weird screeching wailing sound, and it seemed to be getting louder as we drove on. Finally right when I thought my ears were going to burst, and that I couldn’t take any more of this deafening wail, I was jolted awake.
I sat upright, trying to catch my breath, huffing I took in my surroundings, and realized I was in my bed, in my house. Panicking I jumped up trying to get my bearings, and figure out what was going on. I stumbled towards my closet, I needed my gun……when realization hit me……..my wife was still asleep, breathing softly, laying next to where I had just jumped up from, and my alarm clock was beeping its shrill wake up call on the night stand next to my bed.
Hope you enjoyed our Bug out tale, as much as we did creating it!
Edit: Forgot the stats..
Total bug out time: 28 hours