The Unwelcome Sign

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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zengunfighter
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The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:59 pm

"Should I start from the front, or the back?" I asked myself. Pondering the mechanics for a moment, I made up my mind. Rolling the corpse over, face down, I pulled my Cold Steel Recon Scout from it's sheath on my belt, put the point between two cervical vertebra and proceeded to remove the head from the body.

"What in the Hell are you DOING!" Frank yelled at me.
"I'm cutting the head off this corpse."
"Dude, have you lost your mind?!"

"He doesn't need it anymore, and I do. Instead of standing there gawping, cut me a pole about eight feet long, sharpen it on both ends while you're at it."
"I've got your back, brother, but sometimes I worry about you.." Frank said as he pushed his slung M4 behind his back and melted into the bush to retrieve a pole.

If you've never done it before, taking a human head off isn't that easy. The tricky part is dealing with the spine. That's why I started there. Once you have that separated, the rest is smooth sailing. Luckily, one of Frank's three shots had blown this fellow's liver apart, resulting in most of his blood draining from that wound, making it a bit less messy for me to deal with the carotid and jugulars.

I had the head detached and sitting upright on the ground about the time Frank emerged from the bush with a inch and a half diameter Ginnip sapling. "Perfect" I said.

"You want to tell me what you have in mind?"
"We're gonna put this head on the pole and put it up down by the beach by their boat" I answered.
"Pour encourage d'autres", I responded to his next, unasked question.
"You think it'll do any good?"

" I'm hoping that his head on a pike will give others' pause, and encourage them to seek easier pickings. The downside is that we are announcing our presence here, and the fact that we are armed. There's always trade offs, and in this case, I think the strategic application of 'Horror' outweighs the tactical error of letting people know we are here. They'll figure it out sooner or later. Hell, this one did."

"Now help me get this coconut stuck on this stick...."

So how did I get to the place where I'm decapitating corpses? It's been a long time coming and many things have led to my decision. And all the decisions I will be making from here on out. It's a new 'normal' and I was trying to adapt quickly enough to survive. As Darwin said, it's not the strongest or the smartest that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.

Seems I'm one flexible fellow.

In books and movies there's that initial conflict between the bad guy and the hero? And the hero, being a 'good guy' bypasses the opportunity to solve everyone's problem by taking out the villain right then and there, because that wouldn't be 'right' or 'moral'. Everyone knows that at the end of Act Three the protagonist will finally deal with the antagonist, but only after he has had plenty of time to cause harm and mayhem to others. How moral is that?

One of my teachers told me, "if a tree is leaning over your house, do you wait for it to fall and crush your house before you cut it down?" As soon as you understand someone's intention to harm you, you need to take immediate action and not wait for the harm you know is inevitable.

It's a tough decision to make, when I've spent my entire life practicing being helpful to people and 'doing no harm'. But it's a new reality, now, the thin veneer of civilization has been ripped off, exposing the ugliness beneath. Adjust and adapt quickly because I won't get many chances to get it wrong.
Getting it wrong has greater consequences now, than it did just a short while ago.

This stream of thought finished about the same time that I completed the gruesome task of putting up my Unwelcome sign. I picked up my M4, put my head and right arm through the 2 point sling, tapped the mag, did a chamber check, and hit the forward assist a couple of love taps. Wiping the sweat off my face with my shemaugh I bit down on the valve of my Camelbak sucking in some water, happy to find that it was still quite cold.

Frank, seeing that I was ready, stepped off into the bush without a word. I paused a beat, took a calming breath and slowly followed him. Sight lines in the bush are very short so you need to move very slowly, silently, and really tune into your surroundings. The critters had settled down and were back to making their usual noises, after having their morning shattered by the 3 quick shots from Frank's rifle.

Hearing and smell are just as important as sight when you are navigating the bush. You need to open up your awareness and become part of the ecosystem. If you don't, you'll end up with your head on a stick.
Last edited by zengunfighter on Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:01 pm

Every 50 paces or so, I'd stop, turn, and watch/listen/smell or back trail. The wind was in my face. Good for knowing if someone was following us, but bad if we hoped to get a shot at animal. Maintaining good hygene was an order of magnitude more difficult nowadays. Many people just didn't bother. Staying clean is one of the reasons we live longer, or use to, at any rate. There's the obvious reasons related to diasese, and the less obvious, that your smell can give away your presence to game animals and enemies.

Make the effort.

I turned back around and had only taken a couple of steps when I noticed Frank stop and squat down, looking at the ground. He caught my eye, pointed at the ground and resumed walking. I moved up and stopped where he had and looked. A small pile of little black/brown pellets indicated that a deer or goat had passed her recently. I'm sure he'd winded us, so we'd never get a shot at him, but it was good to know that he was around. We'll get him another time.

We came up to edge of the clearing, me still trailing back a dozen paces. Frank took off his hat, scrubbed his hair with his left hand and replaced the hat. That innocuous gesture let Leia in the observation post know that everything was copacetic. If Frank had done anything else, not given the sign, or even something as subtle as using his right hand to scrub his scalp, whoever was on watch would have known there was a problem, and hit the switch to alert the rest of the group.

After his quick pause to adjust his hat, Frank set off again, making sure to not acknowledge Leia in the OP as he walked past, in case anyone was watching him. Another 100 yards and the house was visible behind the knoll that concealed it from view from the rest what used to be my neighborhood.

Suddenly two dobermans, a rust and red bitch and a black and tan male ran at us full speed. They ran right past Frank and went for me. They ran circles around me, play fighting with each other, their normal ritual to let me know that they were happy that daddy was home. I stopped, unlocked my knees, and waited for the unbounded show of joy to subside. They knew better than to jump up, but a 90 pound dog bouncing into your locked knee is a good way to get hurt. Just one more indication that life was different now. A banged up knee a few months ago would have meant going to the doctor, some tests, some pain meds, maybe physical therapy, or if the injury was bad, surgery.

Not now. There's no such thing as a simple injury anymore.

My wife, Sadie heard the dogs roughhousing from inside the house and greeted me at the door. "Sweetie!" she exclaimed while she gave me a big hug. "How did the sweep go?" she asked.
Frank and I entered the house, racked our M4s, shrugged out of our day packs, took off our load bearing gear and put them on on the stands we each had for our equipment, staged near the door where we could get to them quickly. Our pistols and knives stayed on, though.

We never took off our handguns. The whole point of sidearms is having a weapon that you can Always have Near to Hand.

Rolling my shoulders, glad to be relieved of their burden, I reached up and massaged my neck while I answered Sadie's question. "The sweep went relatively well, but we did have a run in with some looters. Frank had my back, so it wasn't an issue."

"What happened? So those were your gun shots we heard?"

Gunshots were heard often enough to not be note worthy unless they were close by.

"Yeah, that was Frank, lighting up a looter." The three of us sat down on the deck, overlooking the Atlantic ocean a couple of hundred yards away, the
Trade Winds quickly drying our sweaty tee shirts, despite the 80% humidity. I reached down next to me, opened the mini fridge, pulled out a icy cold can of Coke for me, tossed a Greenie to Frank and handed one to my wife. Taking a deep drink of that sugary ambrosia, I continued.

"We started the patrol from the east this time to mix it up. I took point to start. We eyeballed the Johansen place as we passed. Everything looked fine there. Emma was pulling weeds, while her two sons were making a couple of new raised beds from 2x12s they scavenged from their neighbor's house. Looks like they're going to have about 8 of those beds when they're done.

We slipped by without them knowing we were there and kept moving east another couple hundred yards until we hit the gut. We moved up the gut until we were almost up to the main road. That's when I heard the voices. A couple of men talking. We stopped, took a knee, and took in information. Looking back I caught Frank's eye. I cupped an ear, pointed to my eyes, then pointed at him, and then pointed in a semi circle behind him."

"Like he needs to tell me my job." Frank interjected with a grin. I ignored the jab and continued with the report.

After listening and looking for a minute or so, I looked at Frank again who shook his head in the negative. I nodded in reply, motioned for him to circle and flank, and then rose to a crouch, and slowly moved closer to the voices. Moving just a few yards I was finally able to catch a glimpse of them between the foliage. I could also hear what they were saying.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" said the one furthest from me.
"I'm telling you, this neighborhood is far enough out that no one has hit it yet. There'll be some food for certain and women too. We do it just like before. I find a place to hide near the door, you knock and stand back, and when they come out to talk to you, I'll shoot them in the back, they'll never know what hit them. It worked good the last two times, didn't it?"
"Yeah, but, I've got a bad feeling about it"
"You didn't have a bad feeling about that last chick we found, did you? She lasted longer than the one bef"
BOOMBOOMBOOM! Three shots rang out from my right, about 10 yards out.
The looter, interupted, paused, looked down at his chest, pulled his now bloody hand away from the area of his liver, and folded up, dropping in an untidy pile.
I brought my M4 up, flipping the safety off, and put the red dot from my Aimpoint T-1 on the back of the rapidly retreating form of the second looter. I let off 3 quick shots, but by then I couldn't see him any longer.
I went to flat stock with the M4, side stepped, went kneeling, and did a 360 scan. I rose to a crouch and repeated the scan, and then stood and repeated the process.
With the thick foliage, you can see different things at different distances from different heights.

Check them all.

I pulled a spare mag out of my Olangapo carrier, did a tac load, swapping it for the partial in the rifle. Tap and tug to make sure it's seated, the partial went into the cargo pocket on my left leg. Chamber check, tap the forward assist, and closed the dust cover. As I finish up Frank has moved up to me, rifle in flat stock while he scans behind me.

"That was cold, dude" I told him.
"What was?"
"You just dumped that guy with out so much as a how'd ya do"
"What was there to talk about? They needed killing. What was I supposed to wait for?"
"I'm just messing with you dude. You did the right thing. Fair fights are for fairy tales. As you said, they needed killing"
"did you get the second one?"Frank asked me.
I'm not sure. He moved quick!"
"You gonna check or am I"
"I'll do it, you cover. Your vision is better than mine."

We moved to the pile of flesh and bones that until recently had been a looter and rapist, a Taker. He was very obviously expired. I checked him over and found a Glock 22 in his waist band, sans holster. He had a wad of cash in one pocket, a bag of weed in another. I pocketed both. I'm not sure the money will ever have any value again, but the weed certainly has it's uses. And if nothing else, the cash can be used as TP.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:02 pm

I pulled the Glock 22 from the corpse's waist, pulled the mag and checked the chamber. I put the round from the chamber into the mag, which was dutch loaded with a variety of FMJ and hollowpoints. Pointing the empty gun in a safe direction, I pulled the trigger and held it back. Shaking the pistol near my ear, I could hear the striker moving back and forth freely. I put the mag back in, leaving the chamber empty. Waving Frank over, I put the Glock in his backpack, not willing to trust it until I've had a chance to give it a thorough going over.

I turned my attention to looking for the second Taker. Moving over to where I last saw him, I squatted down and looked around. After a few seconds of me looking without seeing anything, Frank said "At your 2 o'clock, about 3 feet out, on that Cashia leaf."

I told you he has good eyes.

There, right where he said, was a bright red dollop of blood. About half a teaspoon's worth.

"Looks like you tagged him" Frank said.
"Yup. Let's see if there is a blood trail to follow."

I let Frank take the lead, while I provided cover. We moved slow at first, finding drops of blood every few yards.

After a hundred yards or so,Frank stopped and waited until he had my attention, then pointed up ahead. There, at the base of a Turpentine tree was the body of the second Taker, lying face up. The flies landing on his unblinking eyes let us know that he was no longer with us.

"Guess you did get a piece of him"
"Are you surprised?" I grinned at him.
"Well, you are getting up there in years"

I gave him the universal symbol to let him know that he was Number 1 in my book, and then started going through his things. More cash, more weed, and another Glock. This one a model 19. As I pulled it from him, my hopes soared. It had an extended barrel with threads on it.

I went through the same process with it that I had on the previous pistol, then tossed it to Frank.
"You willing to bet whether he has the can to go with that?" I asked
"Only one way to find out" he replied.

Going through the Taker's pockets, I came up empty. I cut the straps of his cheap backpack and pulled it out from under him. I opened the main compartment and started pulling items out. First was 3 pairs of girls' panties. Sick bastard, probably trophies. Next was 2 bottles of rum. One full, one half full. We'd hang on to those. A dirty pair of jeans had been wrapped around them to keep them safe. In the bottom of the pack was two boxes of 9mm, which is always gratefully received. But my hopes were falling. No can.

"What about that side pocket?" Frank asked.

I took a breath and unzipped it. There was a red bandana in there. Wrapped around something. Something about eight inches long and a bit over an inch in diameter.

"Jackpot! Yes! This is a game changer, dude. With all the preps we've done, the one thing I regretted not being able to get was a suppressor, but it just wasn't feasible"
"That'll come in handy, no doubt" Frank said. "seeing as you're the one that shot him, I guess it's yours".
"I suppose that's right, but I'll put it to the best use. If that means someone else needs it, so be it."

Back on the porch, Frank picked up the thread of the story. "The next part really takes the cake. Your husband is one cold dude. Do you want to tell her, or shall I?"
"Go ahead, dude, my throat's dry. You can tell Sadie about the Unwelcome Sign"
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Nancy1340
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by Nancy1340 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:07 am

Thank you. Looks like it's golng to be a good read.

zengunfighter
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:26 am

Fate, Kismet, Predestination, whatever you want to call it, some people believe that you life follows a path and leads you to exactly where you need to be. That everything that happens, everything that you’ve done, all of your experiences, are in place to prepare you for the challenges that confront you.

I’m not sure I believe that malarkey, but sometimes it sure does seem that way. When I was in the early phase of dating Sadie, she used to call me ‘Dieter Tenjobs’, because I’d had a rather varied work background. I’d worked in sales, various construction jobs, security, high tech industry to name a few.

All of those have formed me, and taught me skills and lessons that are very useful in the New Normal.

I was sitting at my work bench, going over the 2 Glocks we had just received. One of the reasons that I love Glocks is that they are so simple and easy to work on. The generations one, two and three have just 28 parts. 32 if you count the magazine. You can detail strip them using only a 3/32” punch, a small flat bladed screw driver, and a pair of needle nose pliers.

Parts were readily available, when things were still normal, and I’d stocked up on them. I could keep the group’s Glocks running for decades. As I worked on taking down the slide assembly, my mind wandered.
I thought back to my childhood, growing up in a very small town in a rural section of New York. It was long enough ago that we used to drill hiding under our desks, or in the halls, hands clasped over the backs of our necks, in anticipation of a Soviet nuclear attack.

Tell me that’s not formative.

Despite the Damacles Sword hanging over our young necks, it was an innocent time. Every boy had a pocket knife in his pocket, yet never dreamed of using it for anything more sinister than carving a pipe from a corn cob, or a game of mumblypeg.

Having cleaned all the recesses in the slide with a cue tip and pipe cleaner, making certain that the firing pin channel was free of any lube or dirt, I wiped down the extractor, extractor plunger, firing pin safety and put the slide back together again, making sure that to have plastic to plastic contact between the plunger and the back plate.

Picking up the frame and the punch I started taking it down next.
My father instilled a love of three things in me, from an early age; learning, reading, and firearms, not necessarily in that order. As a lad I was a voracious reader. No gun magazine within my reach was safe from my grubby mitts as I devoured them cover to cover. This was back when the advertisements boasted of Lugers and 20mm Solothurn anti tank rifles shipped right to your door, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Postman.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:29 am

My 6th grade teacher fanned the flames, taking the class on field trips, literally into the fields around the school, studying the flora and fauna around us. He had us read “To Build a Fire” and then formed us into teams, took us outside and had us compete to see who could start a fire with only 3 matches.

About the same time I read “Mysterious Island”, “Swiss Family Robinson, and all of Bradford Angier’s survival books. I’d run home from school just in time to watch the hardy frontier folk on TV’s “Daniel Boone”

Tell me that’s not formative.

Having thoroughly checked all the parts of the frame, I reassembled it and put a drop of Mobil 1 on each frame rail and the center of the trigger bar. Another drop on the barrel, smeared around with my finger to cover where it contacts the slide and locking block, and I put it all back together. Cycling the slide a couple of times, dryfiring it, I pronounced it fit for duty. I put it in the safe for future use.

Loco and Rudi, our two pups had been curled up nearby, resting from their recent roughhousing. They’re both in great shape, but playing in 85 degree temperatures with 80% humidity will wear you out quickly.

I knelt down next to them and gave them both some head pats, check scratches, and belly rubs, when both of their ears went up. A barely perceptible growl formed deep in their throats and their muscles wound up like clock springs. I looked out the open door in the direction they were looking.

“Easy” I said, trying to sooth them. “Good pups. Stay” I got up, and moved to the shelf to grab my binoculars. Rather than moving to the door, I stayed in the shadows of the house and used the binoculars to scan the bush around the house. I ‘sliced the pie’, looking at a section of the bush throught the doorway, moving sideways a little and then scanning the next section.

“There!” I saw him at the same time I smelled him. Luckily the wind was right for the dogs to pick up on him early enough for me to do something about it. Before he got away.

I put on my magazine carrier, slung my M4 and pushed it around back. Hopefully I wouldn’t need it. Hopefully I’d be able to deal with him using the suppressed Glock 19 that we had liberated earlier in the day. I’d given it a thorough going over, test fired it, and was confident that it would function and hit where it was pointed.

I found Sadie in the kitchen. “He’s out there right now, about 75 yards away. I’m going out the side door and I’m going to flank around to get down wind of him and see if I can get a shot.”

“What do you need me to do?” she asked.
“let Leia know what I’m doing. Is Frank in the OP also?”
“Yes, his shift is next, Leia’s off in about 20 minutes. Can I do anything else?”
“Just keep an eye and ear open and keep the pups close”

I gave her a quick kiss and then slipped out the door.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by 223shootersc » Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:03 am

thanks, good stuff

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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:07 pm

I worked my way into the bush 90 degrees from where I'd seen him, keeping in mind his direction of travel, and making sure the house was between us. Stopping a few paces in, I stopped and took 3 calming breaths and opened my awareness.

I carefully drew the Glock 19 with my right hand while my left dug the suppressor out of my pocket. I am going to have to come up with a better rig for carrying them as soon as I get a chance. Seems everything is a priority and there aren't enough hours in the day to do what needs doing.

Setting the wrong priorities can really ruin your day.

Screwing the can on the end of the pistol's barrel, I got my mind back into the game. I adjusted my grip on the Glock, crouched down, and headed out, upwind, trying to get around behind him.

I stepped with my feet flat, feeling for anything on the ground that would make noise or cause me to lose my footing. Take a step, pause, look, listen, smell, repeat. At each pause I'd slowly lower my body, crouching, to get a different perspective. You can often seen further through the foliage if you vary your sight lines.

Judging that I was about even with him, wind wise, I moved diagonally to intercept his back trail. Here is were it gets tricky. The fact that he was still alive in this New Normal meant he was no slouch. He'd be checking his back trail. I'd have to very careful to not let him know he was being followed.

There! A perfectly formed foot print in the clay. My heart rate picked up, forcing me to grab a hold of my breathing to slow my metabolism again. I'm too close to blow this now, there's too much riding on this.

The wind shifted a couple of degrees bringing his scent to me. Damn, he's one ripe bastard!
That's gonna cost you brother.

Another couple dozen paces further, my thighs starting to burn from walking at a crouch, I paused again, kneeling to look under some leaves. And I got my first look at him. He was stopped, body facing away from me, but his head turned halfway towards me.

I froze. If I moved, made a sound, or the wind shifted, I'd be discovered. I adverted my eyes from his head, focusing on the ground at his feet, trying to keep my intention neutral. We've all had that feeling that someone was looking at us. Most people ignore it. The fact that this fellow was still alive meant that he wasn't one of them.

Then fortune favored me. Or, more likely, my dogs are smarter than I think. They are, after all, used to working as a team. Rudi, still at the house ahead of us, barked once, twice, then again.

That was all I needed. My quary snapped his head in the direction of the barking at the same time that my hands met in the all too familiar two handed grip as my arms extended. My vision, my intention, was focus on that little hollow at the base of his skull. My arms put the sights of the pistol into that sight line as my finger moved to the trigger, taking up all of the slack and some of the let off weight so at the confluence of my elbows locking, the sights interrupted my vision just as the shot broke.

Smooth. No wasted motion.

The Glock made a chuffing sound as the 147gr subsonic hollowpoint left the muzzle, the reciprocating slide making almost as loud a noise. The bullet flew true, severing the brain stem from the spine, and he dropped where he stood, like a marionette with its strings cut.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:23 pm

Instead of running right up to him, I stopped, took a knee, and waited. Hell, he wasn't going anywhere.

You know that phrase, “pay attention”? You actually only have so much attention that you can pay. It is a limited amount, and way you spend some of your attention allotment on one thing, that means you can't spend it on something else.

Your brain only has so much processing power. If more than about 15% of your neurons fire at the same time, you will pass out, having exceeded your body's ability to provide enough fuel to the brain.

Couple this to the fact that we are genetically geared to be lazy, (as a means of conserving calories), and your natural inclination is to tune out most sensory inputs and to create a bubble around you.

Failing to be alert is the real attention deficit disorder.

So as I knelt there, I expanded my awareness. I did a slow 360 degree scan. Slow, because your brain litterally can not keep up with the information your eyes send it if they move too quickly.

Nothing.

Next, my hearing. I unfocused my eyes and looked at a middle ground nothing. Opening my mouth I turned my attention to the sounds around me. Not just the sounds that were there, but were there any sounds missing? I tried to listen to the furthest thing away from me, and then pushed out from there. I turned my head slowly, same as I did when I was looking, giving the external ear a chance to funnel sounds in.

Nothing.

Tuning out the hearing, I spent my attention on my nose. While it may not be as good as many animals, our sense of smell can provide useful informaiton. Part of the reason we don't think it is any good is because we mostly ignore it, in favor of our wonderful techincolor eyesight which is so much more interesting. I did one more 360 scan.

Nothing.
Now I could move. I approached carefully, from his blind side. I was pretty confident he was done, but I've seen some odd things when it comes to head shots. The cranial vault is aptly named.

As I got nearer, his stench assualted my nose. Ugh! Goats are nasty smelling critters. But we need the protein, and we can't have them raiding our crops. It's amazing the damage they can do in a very short time.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by Mister Dark » Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:22 pm

Keep it going! You had me on the goat, by the way. Well played, sir.

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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:15 pm

Mister Dark wrote:Keep it going! You had me on the goat, by the way. Well played, sir.
I was hoping to not be too obvious :)

I'm glad you are enjoying it. I'm having fun with it.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:35 am

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

It took us a little while to figure it out. Being on an island in the Caribbean, it took a while for the effects to become evident. Evidence trickled in, one item after another, until even the most dim witted was able to put together that something was Bad Wrong.

My first clue was when the internet stopped working. I was in my cubicle, feet up, and tried to do an internet search on a person we were investigating for a possible fraud.

I got an 'Unable to connect at this time' message. Nothing unussual about that, just a minor annoyance, easily dismissed. I just turned to some invoices, going over them for my approval while I waited for the internet to come back up. I'd retry every five or ten minutes. Still nothing.

“That's strange” Michael said, sitting down across from me in my cubicle.
“What's that?”
“Internet is down”
“Yeah, I noticed. I'm trying to get some information for an investigation and keep getting error messages”
“It's not just the internet net, but the bank's network is down too”
“Uh Oh!” The gears in my head started turning. No network, no access to account information. No access to account information, no transactions. No transactions, angry clients”

“Excuse me Mike, I want to check on things down in the lobby”. I got up and headed towards the branch lobby a floor below me. As I neared the mezzanine, I could already hear the raised voices.

“What do mean you can't cash my check?! How am I going to buy food for my children?”
“If I don't pay my WAPA bill they, they gonna turn off my current!”
“It's my money! I want my money, now!”

I ran down the stairs, grabbed the guard and told him to get the doors locked, and to only let people out, not in. Next I poked my head in the assistant manager's

“Roslyn, I'm shutting the branch until we get this figured out. Would you print up some signs and post them on the doors? Something like “Closed Due to an Emergency, Sorry for the Inconvenience” of something like that”
“Sure Dieter, no problem. What's going on?”
“I'm not sure yet, but we've got some angry clients that we can't service. I want to get things under control before things get out of hand. I'll let you know when I find out more”

I spent the next 10 minutes calming angry customers, explaining that we were having technical problems, that we were very sorry for the disruptions of their plans, and to please come back later. And did I mention that I was very sorry for the inconvenience?
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Fri Nov 29, 2013 2:49 pm

I ran back upstairs to my work area and poked my head in my boss' office.
“Hey Don, we've got a problem and we need to figure out how to handle it”
“Yeah, I was just talking to Risk and Branch Ops. We're meeting in the conference room on the third floor in fifteen minutes. Get with the rest of our department and let them know about the meeting”
“Will do boss” I said, feet already in motion.

At this point, as far as we knew, we were dealing with an internal glitch only affecting our bank. We'd get it figured out, and be back up and running, one way or another. We didn't realize that it was the beginning of the New Normal.

While I was waiting for the meeting, I decided to call a friend in the states. He'd left a message earlier in the morning, and this was my first chance to return his call.
“We're sorry, but your call cannot be completed at this time”. I tried two more times to place the call, without success. Phone issues are nothing new to island life so it didn't raise any red flags, in and of itself, but it was another data point that I added, subconsciously, to the soon to be growing pile.

“So what do we know?” Don started the meeting.
“Our local network is Ok, but we've lost all connectivity with corporate on Puerto Rico.” reported Michael
“All our client info is on the main frames there. Does this mean we are dead in the water?” Branch Ops asked
Before Michael could answer, Don asked, “Have you tried calling over there?”
“To answer the first question, yes, we are dead in the water. Without access to those data bases we can't post any transactions. And yes, I've tried calling IT and the help desk, and any other number I could think of. Same thing for all of them. I got a recording saying the call could not be completed”
“Same thing with emails” added Risk. “Outlook just gives error messages saying it can't connect to the server.”
“Well, that's no surprise” said Don. “I've tried calling and texting various colleagues at corporate and nothing's going through.
“So where does that leave us?” asked Risk
“Until we can reestablish a link with corporate, we can't operate”
I jumped in, “ I'm concerned from a security stand point. I just had to deal with a lobby full of irate clients. I got the branch locked down, but it wasn't much fun. People get kinda funny about their money.
I got in touch with the other branches on island, but couldn't make contact with those on other islands. I told them to do the same thing, lock down put up signage saying we are having technical problems, and to not let anyone else in.
I've made arrangements with the guard service to post guards 24/7 for now in case people start to act out on their frustration.”
“Smart, I concur” agreed Don. “I think we should close up the branches, get everything locked down and send the employees home early. We should teleconference in this evening at 7pm and meet here tomorrow at 8am to discuss how we handle this going forward. “

As the meeting broke up, I jogged to my cubicle shut everything down, and grabbed my backpack. Pausing for a moment I set it down on the desk and opened the side pocket. I pulled the 2 extra 17 round Glock magazines out and put them with the one that was already in my left front pocket.

One of the things I love about the Glock 26 is that while it is fairly small and concealable, it can take the longer mags of the models 17 and 19, as well as the 33 rounders. It's not so much about firepower as it is continuity of fire.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by teotwaki » Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:29 pm

more please, Kind Sir
My adventures and pictures are on my blog http://suntothenorth.blogspot.com

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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:57 pm

teotwaki wrote:more please, Kind Sir

"I'm givin' it all I got sir! I doan know how much more she can take!" *said in a bad scots accent*

Glad you are enjoying it! I'll be posting more as soon as I can!
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:20 pm

I threw the daypack over my left shoulder and headed down to the lobby. I was planning on keeping an eye on the branch while the tellers finished balancing, got their cash pans into the vault and all of the staff safely out the door and the alarm set.

Every few minutes a client would come up to the glass entrance doors and pull on them. Only when they didn’t open did they bother to read the sign posted on the door. Many of them would look at their watches, verifying that it was still normal business hours, and then look in the branch trying to get someone’s attention.

You could see the frustration and anger in their faces.

Finally we got the branch buttoned up and the staff out the door. I was the last to leave. I walked to my Jeep, got in and buckled up. I have kind of ritual when I get in my vehicle. I’m actually big on rituals. They can keep you alive. Pilots have rituals before they take off, they start with a walk around of the plane and end with going through a checklist to make sure they haven’t forgotten a single thing.

While not as complex, I’ve developed several rituals that help to ensure that I don’t forget important things.

I cranked the engine first to give it a chance to warm a little, wiggle my butt all the way into the back of the seat, buckle the seat belt and then tug on it to get rid of any slack, and then clear my shirt from the belt in the area of my holstered pistol, in case I needed to draw while seated. A quick check of the mirrors and gauges and I’m good to go.

It takes a lot longer to write about the process than actually do it. And it’s attention to small things like that that can make the difference in a tight spot.

Pulling out of my parking spot I turned on the radio. I find myself at that age where, as much as I love music, I prefer talk radio. The local NPR station was off the air. I know, I know, but NPR is less biased than many other of the main stream media and it’s a good idea to keep an ear on what the left of center folks are thinking.

Once again, being used to island life, the fact that the local NPR affiliate was off air didn’t mean much. That happens pretty regularly. But the data was coming in an piling up.

I switched to a local talk station, coming into the middle of a conversation about the airport. It seems that all air travel at our strip was grounded. No planes had arrived and none could take off because there wasn’t any communication with the states.

At this point, even someone as dense as me can connect the dots. ‘Something is seriously wrong’ I thought. I could feel myself tensing up, hands tightening on the steering wheel as became even more alert, scanning the traffic around me more than normal.

I forced myself to breath and try to relax. Your nervous system has two main parts, the somatic side that is the part you directly control, like when I decide to put on the brakes, or reach over to change the channel on the radio, and the Autonomic, the housekeeping side regulating heart rate, digestion, and all of the other chemical processes that sustain life. It also includes breathing. If I asked to stop digesting your last meal, or to raise your heart rate 8 beats a minute, you couldn’t do it. But if I asked you to hold your breath, or breath faster, or deeper, you can.

Breathing is the bridge between the Somatic and Autonomic sides and if you grab hold of it and control it, you can affect the rest of the Autonomic processes. The processes that can cause you to get stressed out when you worry. Just like I am right now.

So I took in a deep slow breath through the mouth for a count of 4, deep into the bottom of my lungs. And then held it for a count of 4. The pause is key. Then let it out through my nose for a count of 4, emptying as much as I can, and then pausing for another 4 count.

Three or four repetitions will calm you and drop your blood pressure twenty percent.

It worked. For about a minute. Then I’d have to do it again.

Climbing up to the crest of the island and dropping down on to the northside, traffic thinned. Getting closer to home I started to calm down. I was almost home to my lil’ Sweetie. I’d be able to get a better handle on what was going on when I could talk about the day’s events with my wife. She has an amazing ability to put things into perspective. Hillbillies tend to be practical people.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by Snapshot7.62 » Sat Nov 30, 2013 12:16 am

Really enjoying this, good work!
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by TacAir » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:48 am

I like the story, I really like the style. Put up a block, make an aside, put up another block.

I could get used to this.

And I like 'Hillbillies', mountain folk are no fools.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by idahobob » Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:14 am

Just got into it.

Great story! :clap: :clap:

Keep it up!

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People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:37 am

I pulled up to the house, I reversed into our driveway. I almost always back into parking spots. Right now, I’m not in a hurry, so I can take the time to back in. When it’s time to leave, I have no idea if I’ll be in a hurry.

Grabbing my pack I exited the Jeep and walked to the gate. You know, dogs make life just a bit more bearable. Rudi and Loco ran up the gate, doing the ‘we are so happy that you are home daddy!’ dance. You can have had the crappiest day, and your dogs’ welcome will turn it right around.

“Hi Sweetie!” my wife called as she leaned out of a second story window. I said hi back and went inside, trying to avoid getting knocked down by the frolicking ninety pound Dobermans tear-assing back and forth past me. Sadie met me at the door and gave me a welcome home hug.
“How was your day?”
“Ummmm…interesting….something’s going on and I’m not sure what to make of it.” I proceeded to tell her of the bank’s communication issues, the internet being down, and the airport closed.
“Yeah, I noticed the internet, I wanted to look up the Consumer Price Index for some leases I’m working on and I wanted to shop for some more work shirts for you and I couldn’t go online. I just figured it was a typical island outage. You think it’s something else?”
“It’s starting to look that way. As Lenny on ‘Law and Order’ says “I don’t believe in coincidences. Too many problems have cropped up, all at once. ”
“So what do you think is going on?”
“I’m not sure. Something is going on in the states. But with communications down, there’s no way to know for sure what the cause is, or how bad it is.”
“Do you think we were attacked?”
“I can think of a number of scenarios of the top of my head, but it would just be speculation. Which makes it hard for us to plan. How severe is the problem, how long will it last? How will affect us? At this point we just don’t know. We’re just going to have to wait and see if we get more information in the next day or two.
Upper management at the bank is having a teleconference at 7 this evening, that might tell us something.”

I dialed into the conference at seven o’clock. Risk had been unable to get in touch with any government regulatory agencies. Branch Ops had family in Germany that she tried to contact by phone and email, coming up empty on both. I mentioned what I had heard about the airport being closed, with no flights in or out. We agreed to meet at the branch at 7:00am the next morning.

After I hung up I went down to the man cave and opened the gun safe. I pulled out the case holding my M4 and grabbed the Remington 870. Things were getting hinky enough that I wanted long guns quickly available.

Taking them upstairs, I pulled the mag out of the M4, did a chamber check, and pushed out the two pins holding the upper and lower receiver together. The rifle was now in two shorter pieces that fit in my back pack. I planned on bringing it with me to work the next morning and wanted to maintain a low profile.

“How did the phone call go” Sadie asked as she walked in the room.
“Still no comms with the states, or Europe. We’re going to meet first thing in the morning, and go from there”
“So you’re going to work?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”
“No reason really, I’m just getting worried. I’d rather that you stay home.”
“I know Sweetie, but it’s my job. And I might get some information that will give us an better idea of what we’re up against.
“Ok, but you be careful”
“Hey, you sent me to all those ‘high speed’ shooting and driving and executive protection schools, who’s better prepared to deal with trouble than me?” I grinned at her.
“You know what I mean. Anything can happen.”
“ I promise that I’ll be careful. Nothing is going to keep me from coming home to my Sweetie”.
“You’d better! Don’t make me come and find you. I’ll be bringing an ass kicking with me if I do”

It’s amazing how dependent we’ve become on the internet in such a short time. While it is a wonderful source of instantaneous information, most of us use it more for entertainment. No Netflix for us tonight. I settled for reading a kindle book on my smart phone while Sadie played a game on hers.

Neither of us slept well that night and I got up early, tired but anxious to learn what was going on.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by Nancy1340 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:09 am

Thanks. Ready for some excitement.

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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Sun Dec 01, 2013 8:57 am

Nancy1340 wrote:Thanks. Ready for some excitement.
Thanks!

I know we're in a slow part right now but I'm trying to set up the storyline. There should be some excitement coming up real soon. :)
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by zengunfighter » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:25 am

I finished my usually bleary-eyed morning routine to get ready for work. Sadie was awake, in bed, iPhone in hand, playing a game, which is her wake up routine. I leaned over and gave her a good bye kiss.

“I’m heading into town now. I left the shotgun by your desk with the ammo bag.”
“Is it loaded?”
“I’ve loaded the mag with buckshot, chamber’s empty and I dropped the hammer so all you have to do is rack it and you’re good to go, don’t have to worry about finding the bolt release. And I left your radio on and plugged in. It’s set to hit the repeater. The way things are going, I don’t know if we’ll lose the cell phones. I’m going to take your Jeep, I want to gas it up while I’m in town. Mine’s full if you need to go anywhere.”
“I don’t think so Sweetie, I was planning on working at home today. Call me if you need me to do anything.”
“I will. I’ll give you a call as soon as I know anything.” I gave her another quick kiss and left for work.

“Do we know anything more than we did last night?” Don asked.
“I talked to James at Commercial Bank, and Turnbull over at Banco.” Answered Branch Ops. “ I left a message for McSweeney at Nova. James and Turnbull say they are in the same boat. Network communication with corporate is down.”
I jumped in. “I reached out to the regional manager for American Security. They can’t get a call through to their terminal in Puerto Rico. So shipments of cash are on hold.”
“We’re we supposed to get a shipment today?” Risk asked
“Yes.” Replied Branch Ops. “I’m going to have branch staff do cash counts to see what we have on hand. They’ll have to do it manually, with the network down. Which brings us to the big question, do we open the branches today?”
Don answered, “We have continuity of business contingency plans in place, so we can offer limited services to our clients, so technically, we could open”
“I recommend that we only open two of our branches,” I said, “and only for limited hours. Put signage on the closed branches directing people to the open facilities. We can shift the employees to the open branches which will need the extra help with everything being done manually. I’ll shift the security guards from the closed branches so we have better coverage. I think things are going to get tense here real soon.”
Everyone around the table nodded in agreement with me.
“Ok, we are contingency mode from here on out.” Risk continued where I left off, “Everyone knows what to do. We meet again at 11:00 and at 3:00 for updates. Let’s get to work people”

The morning went by in a blur as I handled my part of the contingency plans. I traveled to the branches that would remain close to check on them. At each and every one of them I saw people pulling on locked doors, then reading the closed signs. Many of them muttered angrily. One man pounded the keypad of the ATM in frustration.

As I walked back to the Jeep after doing a walk around of the Jewel Bay branch, I passed a huddle of several people.
“Man, this just ain’t right! I need my money!”
“What do you think is happening? Banco and Nova are closed up too.”
“Do you think something has happened in the states?”
“I heard it was a terrorist attack. The government shut everything down, just like after 9/11”
“Naw man, the electric grid went down”

I made the mistake of walking to close to them. One reached out to grab my arm. I twisted out of his way.

“Hey, you work for the bank, don’t you? What’s going on? When are you going to open?”
I turned to face them, hands close together in front of my body, knees unlocked, and right side turned away from them. “Yeah, as you all know, something is going on. Seems to be affecting everyone, one way or the other. Our bank has plans in place to keep taking care of our customers as best we can, but it’s challenging right now. The Warfside and Island Center branches are open til 2. Head over there and they’ll take care of you.”

I said the last sentence as I took a step back. Turning, I made it the rest of the way to the Jeep. I got in and did my start up routine, including clearing my shirt from the seatbelt in the area of my pistol. I pulled out of the spot just as someone ran up in front of me. I jammed on the brakes, stopping just shy of hitting him.

He pounded on my hood. “Hey! I heard you talking to them, I know you work for the bank! You need to let me in there and give me my money!” He punctuated the last with another whack on my hood.

Foot on the brake, I shifted into reverse. A quick glance in my rearview showed clear. “Sir! Please stop hitting my car! I can’t open this branch, you’ll have to go to the Warfside like everyone else.”

“Do you know who I is?” he asked. He stepped back, stood tall, shoulders back and lifted his shirt, exposing a pistol stuck in his waistband. I quickly noted it was some flavor of third generation Smith and Wesson auto. I also noted the decocker was in the down position.”

Another quick glance in all three rear views. Nothing. I punched the accelerator and kept the wheel straight. “One…Two…Three” I said out loud out of habit. When I reached three I spun the wheel almost a full turn to the right. The front end of the Jeep slide around, the car pivoting on the rear. Three quarters of the way around I slapped the shifter into drive and hit the gas and headed towards the exit. I looked in the mirror once more to see the man pointing his pistol at me and repeatedly pulling the trigger to no effect. He racked the slide and tried again and still nothing. At that point I lost sight of him as I turned out of the parking lot.

I was to face a similar situation in the not too distant future. I’d use a different gear to deal with that one.
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Re: The Unwelcome Sign

Post by Nancy1340 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:42 pm

Very good. Thanks.

So if he went home over the mountains to the north is his work place in Ponce. I would have thought San Juan. Say near the Hato Rey Norte area?

As hard as it is in PR to get a weapons permit he must have friends in high places. Banking, in one form or another, is a faster route than the "on the street" person.

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