Trump, as usual, was angry.
“Can someone tell me where Patterson is?”
A very young-looking Air Force colonel spoke up. “We were tracking his cargo plane when the EMP hit. We haven’t found any wreckage yet so we’re still hopeful.”
“Hopeful? Hopeful of what? That he didn’t fuck up and he and his men’s rotting corpses aren’t lying in a field somewhere waiting for us to find their sorry asses? Never mind. He was one of the loyal ones. Let’s hope and pray he makes it back.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” said Pence. “Mother and I have been praying all night for the safe return of General Patterson and his men.”
“No luck with the flyovers?” Trump asked an aide.
“We lost a jet to the EMP and it was decided to pull back.”
“EMP, EMP. Can somebody remind me what that is?”
“Electromagnetic pulse…” the aide began. Another whispered in his ear.
“Dumb it down.”
The aide started over. “Somebody exploded a nuclear weapon over Las Vegas and it knocked out all the power: cars, computers, slot machines, airplanes…”
“Thank God I never built a casino there! How long will it take to restore the power?”
“We don’t know. This has never happened.”
“Who’s responsible? We should have already bombed them back to the Stone Age.”
“We think it was North Korea. Anybody else’s aim would have been better.”
“Get Kim on the phone. Does he think he can get away with this?”
Minutes later, “Sir, Kim Jong-un is on line two.”
“Commander, Kim. What the fuck did you do?”
“My apologies, Commander. It seems a bomb test misfired. Please forgive our error. No citizens, no cities were harmed, correct?”
“Kim, Kim, Kim. I thought we had an understanding.”
“Let me make this unfortunate incident up to you. We offer any assistance in tracking down your enemies.”
“Go on. What do you have in mind?”
“We may have repositioned a satellite over the EMP zone. We may be able to find missing soldiers, weapons, perhaps even some of your domestic terrorists.”
“Let’s see what you come up with.”
“Everybody up and out!” a guard bellowed.
Carrie nudged Andy awake as the occupants of the Mosconi Center stirred.
“I never got up before 6 a.m. in my life. I don’t know why I have to now,” Andy grumbled.
A husky woman correction officer replied, “Because we have tasers.”
They steered everyone into single file and aboard very old school buses that were immune to the EMP. Carrie had never seen the BART system idled and useless.
The calendar was moving toward December and morning temperatures in the Bay Area averaged 57 degrees.
Andy watched as they rolled onto side roads along the 101 South. The freeway was cluttered with abandoned vehicles knocked out by the EMP.
“It looks like we’re harvesting today,” he told Carrie.
“Please, God. Let it be corn,” said Carrie. “My back can’t take bending over for beans or cauliflower.”
The bus stopped beside a grove of Haas avocados. Carrie received a fruit picker and Andy followed her around with a bin.
Andy turned at a gurgling noise back toward the bus just in time to see someone in warpaint cut the throat of a second guard. The warrior looked at him and beckoned.
“Hurry! We don’t have much time!”
Andy pulled on Carrie’s shoulder and motioned toward their ride. They dropped their tools in the shadow of the avocado tree and quickly climbed back on the bus. They glanced back and saw others run for the safety of the hulking vehicle as gunfire erupted. If their “educators” thought their prisoners would freeze at the sound of shots fired, they were mistaken. More ducked and sprinted for safety on board.
Two of the warriors jumped into the bus with one taking the driver’s seat and they were soon rolling down the road at a fast clip.
“Welcome to the People’s Army! I’m Frank and this is Logan. We are from the Chumash tribe and before we meet up with everybody in Colorado, we’re going to raise some hell!”
The newly liberated exchanged looks and cheered.
The children had to stop to pee again.
Ramon asked, “How far away is Mexico?”
“My cell phone doesn’t work. Your cell phone doesn’t work. So, no GPS. I would say the answer is very far,” Armando was getting annoyed.
“What time…?” Serena asked, catching herself abruptly.
“Time to get some rest,” answered Ernesto.
They had scarcely started on the road once more when they were confronted by a barrier. Scruffy looking bikers, Armando counted about a dozen, flagged them down.
One of them with a gut that threatened to break his belt stomped over to the car.
“Where ya going, Pancho?”
“Home to Mexico, senor,” Armando said agreeably.
“You’re not injuns pretending to be Mexcans, are you?” asked another biker.
“They’re brown, not red, you idiot,” proclaimed the first one.
The second biker and Ramon were exchanging scowls.
“What are you looking at, beaner?”
“No hablo ingles, cabron,” he replied with a smile.
The first biker waved them through. “Better get out of here before Floyd gets all pissy.”
They had driven another twelve miles when they encountered another checkpoint. There was one lone brown man.
“Buscamos un lugar para descansar un rato.”
“Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish. I’m Cherokee.”
“We’re looking for a rest stop.”
“You’re not red. You’re brown like us,” said seven-year-old Paco.
The thunderous roar of several motorcycles came toward them from where they had just left.
“Go!” the Cherokee yelled.
Armando felt that time had slowed. He didn’t seem to be able to move fast enough. He heard a gunshot and saw the Cherokee go down hard in a pool of blood.
Ernesto was hit. The others ducked behind the car while bullets flew.
They heard gunfire from further up the canyon. Armando couldn’t believe what he was seeing: two soldiers on foot with AR-15s mowed down the bikers as they advanced.
“The rest will be here soon now that the bikes are working. Get in the car and go to the Mesa Verde National Park exit. Somebody will guide you from there.”
Armando wasn’t sure what to do, but the soldier seemed to be someone he could trust. Where was Ernesto? Face down in the street, not moving. Serena and the boys were near hysterics, crying. Ramon was frozen with shock. He, Armando, like the soldiers, must be a man of action.
“We’re going to safety. Vamanos!”
Songbird walked Patterson around the main encampment.
“I’d show you all 82 acres, but we’d need a working vehicle for that,” he explained.
“Then your prayers have been answered,” he responded as a warrior pulled up in a smart car.
“Not much to look at,” he said to the two generals, “but it’s a way to get around.”
“It’s great. Thanks!” said Songbird.
As Patterson squeezed into the passenger seat, Songbird admitted there was not much more to see.
“What do you see as your biggest liability?” he asked Songbird.
“Do you mean besides being seriously outmanned, outgunned, and undertrained?”
They made the rounds, spending time with clusters of warriors of all colors, Songbird taking note of suggestions.
A beat up Ford Fairlane came barreling toward them on one of the back roads.
A family jumped out and waved them down. Patterson noticed the car was riddled with bullet holes.
“Hello, el General!”
“Can we help you?” Songbird asked.
“I am Armando Garcia. This is my wife, Serena and my two boys, Pedro and Paco. And this is Ramon. Your soldiers have saved us so we are here to help.”
“How did you get in, sir?”
“We missed the entrance and found a back way.”
The two generals looked at each other. “Security.”
“Bienvenidos,” said Songbird. “Please find someone in a vehicle and asked them to direct you to food and shelter. I hope you will share your story with us later.”
“Thank you. We are happy to serve,” said Ramon.
“Mr. Pres… Commander. We think we found the general’s plane,” Admiral Dusseldorf announced.
“We did or the Koreans?’
“Uh, they did, sir.”
“Kim’s going to hold that over my head.”
“He was the one who launched the EMP that caused our plane to crash.”
“Right, right. Did they find anybody alive?”
“There’s a truck headed to the site now. We had to get something drivable from outside the EMP zone.”
“Do we know how big the zone is?”
“The nuclear device was detonated somewhere over Vegas so if we determine the bomb’s size, we’re talking Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming…”
“What’s the worst-case scenario? Are we talking riots, that kinda thing?”
“We’ve been getting reports like that since election night.”
“I don’t mean the good guys. I’ll talking about all the snowflakes, Antifa, groups like that.”
“It’s getting bad out there, Commander. The only vehicles on the road are pre-1972. No cell phones, no power, no TV, no burglar alarms. We have had to redeploy some of the poll watchers to security at the supermarkets. As more people start running out of food, the more things will escalate.”
“We’ve got like a gazillion troops out there including the National Guard. Let’s mobilize, people!”
He turned to watch everybody scramble. Despite the situation, he smiled. He was in the eye of the hurricane.
“And find Patterson!”
The bus driver’s name was Gabriel and it was obviously the first time he had driven a bus. Andy winced every time he ground the gears as he shifted.
“Where are we going?” someone yelled from the back.
“To the supermarket!”
There was a puzzled murmur from the passengers.
“We’re stocking up. By the way, does anybody here know how to handle a gun?”
The murmurs rose in volume and tempo.
“I do!” Andy yelled.
Gabriel turned to his partner. “Give that man a firearm!”
It was a Glock. It could have been his. It felt familiar, hefty, substantial.
They pulled to the curb just short of a Safeway in San Jose.
“You and you,” Gabriel’s partner pointed at Carrie and a big guy, “come with us.”
“Anybody here good with a shotgun?” asked Gabriel.
An androgynous person near the back of the bus said in a ringing, confident voice, “That would be me.”
“Yo, I’m Richie. You keep that thing trained out the window at the front of the store. Somebody come out, down they go.”
“I’m Daisy. Come and see me after this is all over.”
Richie smiled and winked.
As they pulled into the Safeway parking lot they saw a line and two guys in camos brandishing shotguns apparently keeping order. Gabriel pointed the bus at one of them and nailed him with the grill as Richie swung down firing a Dirty Harry-style 45 at the other guy. The people in line scattered screaming.
Richie turned back to Andy. “Come on! Move!”
Andy felt his back wrench as he jumped to the pavement and almost lost his grip on the Glock. If the kids could see him now!
Another militia man came running out of the store. Andy couldn’t react fast enough and closed his eyes, ready to meet his maker.
The shotgun behind him exploded with sound and fury and the body lay at his feet, eyes staring at the sky seeing nothing.
Richie yelled, “Grab a cart, old man. It’s shopping time!”
He turned to the few folks who had waited in line who still lingered. “Go ahead. You were here first.”
One of the men plucked up the courage to run into the store and was gunned down by another militia man still inside. The victim’s body lay there as a warning for anybody stupid enough to try it.
“I was afraid of that,” Richie muttered.
“You knew that was going to happen?” screamed Carrie.
“More than likely. Sooner or later.”
“Take me back to the avocado orchard. It’s worse out here than it was there. At least we were cared for,” said Carrie.
“Till the food runs out. That stuff you’ve been harvesting isn’t staying in the Bay Area. Somebody is stockpiling or feeding an army.”
“Which is it?” asked Andy.
“The militias and the bikers in the area have been doing chili cookoffs and beer runs together for years. A big fraternity. That includes most of the local cops. They all used to be at each other’s throats, but these last four years have really brought them together. I’m Porter, CarL Porter. FBI. We have seen these affinity groups suddenly working very well together.”
Another passenger, “What were you waiting for?”
“We were told to just stand back and stand by, don’t do anything to jeopardize the mission.”
“What do we do now?” asked another woman from the bus. “The government got us into this mess. Now they need to get us out. Go get us some food, G Man.”
“Okay, but I’ll need two other guys. We create a diversion and I rush in with gun blazing, isn’t that about right?”
A lanky gray-haired guy from the bus said, “With no power it’s got to be pretty dark in there, right?”
Andy ended up on the roof. He and Richie had dragged an old aluminum ladder over to a remotely accessible spot as quietly as they could. He was responsible for a second diversion if needed, the first was up Porter. Richie was stationed at the back door.
Andy was so nervous, he jumped at the noise Porter was making out front and almost went through the roof. The simultaneous noises from both places had the desired effect on the guy in the store. He pirouetted through the aisles, trying to pinpoint their location, figure out who was out there. Agent Porter slid on his belly from the doorway into the produce section and lobbed cabbages and melons in every direction to confuse and draw fire elsewhere. By now, Andy was making it hard within the store to hear anything other than him running back and forth across the roof. The militia man had had enough. He fired both barrels of his shotgun into the direction of Andy’s stomp. Porter grabbed at an ankle as the man attempted to reload. The others rushed in and soon had him roped to a chair.
“You do realize that the power’s been out for about 36 hours now?” Richie asked their prisoner. “That meat’s going to get rancid soon. Isn’t it better to hand it out?”
“I’m saving it for the boys.”
“What boys?” There was a loud roar from out front. It sounded like a hundred motorcycles.
The prisoner smiled. “Time’s up!”
Snow was drifting down through the trees in Mesa Verde and though the temperature hadn’t dropped, everyone felt instantly colder.
The demands for food and shelter were increasing every day as other tribes and groups came to the Gathering. Their number had grown to 20,000. Latrines were overloaded and, Candy observed after watching a fight over a petty issue, the troops were bored and demoralized. It was time to do something.
“I think it’s time for action,” she said at the morning meeting.
“I agree,” said Patterson. “What did you have in mind?”
“Battles on two fronts, something that will keep them from zeroing in on our exact location.”
“I know where some of the white supremacist survivalist guys hang out on the other side of Cortez. But they have a lot of guns and a lot of ammo,” said Marcus, one of the Hualapai.
“We need to have one more target. This is our coming-out party, guys,” said Ronnie. “We’re trying to make a statement and bring back shock and awe.”
“How about Durango? It’s about 50 miles from here, has about 20,000 population.”
“Ever heard of the White Aryan Resistance? Rumor has it they came in a few months ago and bought some land not too far from downtown Durango.”
“That’s a target.” Patterson was encouraged to see morale pick up. They had a bold plan of action and now needed to see it through, whatever the cost.
One of his troops approached him, Simpson.
“With your permission, General. We’re attaching ourselves to these warriors. We want to help.”
“That’s commendable, Simpson. You’re not going to get a medal for this; you’ll probably end up in a military prison, but I respect and salute you.”
Simpson returned the salute. “Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s legend, right?”
“’We must all hang together or we shall hang separately.’ Ben Franklin.”
General Songbird was planning to lead both groups, leaving the first group to make their way back to camp. Fifty miles was quite a hoof when you had to get there on foot, a journey that seemed so inconsequential in a car, could take them two days. He turned to Reggie.
“I needed this. I was getting soft.”
“My cheeks are bright red, my lips are chapped. What’s not to like?” Reggie laughed.
“If I had a musket, this could be Valley Forge.”
“I find the AR-15 to be a much more effective weapon.”
The first group consisted of 100 warriors. Some were from local tribes and there were clusters of quiet, serious local activist groups full of young people. They were fighting to get their country back and were willing to engage the American war machine, damn the consequences.
They gathered in the predawn hours. Some were traveling ahead in one of their commandeered fleet of junkers to scout out the enemy’s compound and to report to the warriors who came to fight.
Candy walked with the other warriors, contemplating the days ahead. With every skirmish and battle they won, they would that much more of a threat. The temperature had dropped to the teens overnight. Though it was too cold to snow now, the fierce icy wind whipping through the trees made her teeth chatter uncontrollably.
She looked around her. Warriors were knee-deep in the drifts that had fallen during the night. Their feet would suffer most from the cold, damp conditions.
Up on the road above them was an SUV headed their way. It parked and the occupants waited until Candy drew abreast. The door opened and two men jumped out and grabbed her, throwing her into the back seat. The warriors around her struggled with her abductors and managed to pull one of them from the vehicle. He went down fighting but the SUV had fishtailed and finally caught purchase on the icy mountain road and she was gone.
She was surprised to be greeted by Jared Kushner.
“Just sit there and keep your mouth shut. What have you done with our General Patterson?”
She stared back at him, a touch of amusement in her face.
“Well?” He caught on. “You may speak now if you have any information about Patterson. Do your people have him in custody or did he die somewhere along the way?”
She was silent. One of the goons in the front said, “I told you she wouldn’t say anything. She’s just a scared little Harvard girl. Right, honey? I say pitch her over the cliff.”
“No!” she screamed. “I’ll do anything, say anything, just don’t hurt me,” she whimpered.
“Okay. This is just an act. She really is going over the side now.”
The agent came around to the side and opened her door to reach in and grab her. She got a solid kick to his face. He slipped on the ice then seemed to find his balance before he went backward over the cliff.
“This is my stop,” she said as she slipped out the door. The agent driving was unbuckling his seatbelt to pursue her.
“Don’t bother,” said Kusher. “She won’t last long on this cold, dark road. I think Patterson’s dead, don’t you?”
“You’re the boss.”
“Your blood pressure appears normal,” the doctor announced.
“What the fuck do you know? I hire you to lie to everyone else, not me. My BP’s going through the roof, isn’t it?”
“No, commander. You’re the most healthy 74-year-old I’ve ever known.”
“Now I know you’re blowing smoke up my ass.” He turned to a ubiquitous aide. “Get Secret Service to show this guy the door. Don’t forget to revoke his pass. No more disgruntled employees like last week!”
Someone he had fired in his first 100 days of office had confronted him on the way to some affair in the Rose Garden. Secret Service had pounced on him and carted him off before Trump could even remember his name. “Beautiful job, fellas.”
“I’m going to go lie down. Keep up the good work, boys. Wake me up if you find Patterson alive. It can wait if he’s dead and wake me if any other emergency comes up you can’t handle yourselves.”
There was a sudden loud noise from outside, the Pennsylvania Avenue side where all the libtards and all those ungrateful socialists congregated, screaming epithets and giving him the finger.
“What was that?”
“Well, be sure. I don’t want any surprises. No wonder I’m stressed out.”
Secret Service checked in with security at the fence.
“They say some liberal tried to blow himself up. An M-80 won’t get the job done, though. The guard also said the police showed up and took a report from a witness who claimed the firecracker was thrown into the middle of their group from a passing car.”
“When will people learn you don’t mess with the US government? I’m going to bed. I have a big golf game tomorrow. Remind me, who am I playing tomorrow?”
“Duterte from the Philippines. He also wants to ride a Harley while he’s here.”
“No,” corrected another aide. “He wants you to give him one. He called it his quid-pro-quo.”
“Fuck him,” said the commander. “He has never played an honest game of golf in his life and he hasn’t done me any favors. Now I’ve got to get some sleep or I’ll be a real asshole in the morning.”
“Good night, Commander.”
General Patterson was relieved to see the warriors had mustered for him. Their breaths came out in puffs of steam. Most of them seemed intent, even eager, to get on with whatever the day held for them. He met each warrior’s eyes, shook their hands, and took their measure. None of them seemed consumed with the dread usually associated with what could very well be a suicide mission.
“In a few hours A platoon should be reaching the compound in Cortez. We’re coming up behind them to provide fresh reinforcements and to collect some souvenirs for our battle in Durango. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we. For America!”
“For America!” everyone bellowed. “One family, one tribe!” Marcus of the Hualapai yelled.
“Let’s go already!” a young voice called out from the ranks. Everyone within earshot laughed.
The scouts took off in a beat-up Ford Fairlane. Everyone else marched up the road toward the highway.
A little red pickup raced to the cliff dwellings where the other leaders were discussing strategy and logistics.
Armando jumped out of the truck. “Help! Help me, please!”
Josh was one of the first to arrive. Armando opened the passenger door. Inside, seated next to the driver was Candy. Her lips were blue and she was barely aware of her surroundings.
“Get her out and smothered in blankets!” Josh ordered.
One of the nerdy white guys from California ran over. “I’m a doctor. Let’s get her some hot chocolate and I need two or three lady volunteers.”
Someone found an oversized sleeping bag; the volunteers removed Candy’s clothes and theirs.
Josh turned to Armando. “Where was she? How did this happen?”
“Slow, please. Some bad men grabbed her. We tried to stop them. They drove higher up the mountain and left her there. We carried her down the mountain.”
A doctor had shown up to examine her. “We’re not exactly equipped to fight acute hypothermia. Let’s take her into town.”
“Won’t we blow our cover?”
“Do you think nobody knows we’re up here? Cortez is a pretty small town and I’m pretty sure they all know you’re here and they know what you’re up to. And, just for the record, we’re behind you 100 percent.”
The doctor rode along for the trip to Southwest Memorial, keeping a watchful eye on Candy’s vital signs. Within minutes she was connected to several machines and hospital staff took over.
A well-dressed older man approached Josh in the hospital lobby.
“You’re the brother, right? I’m Preston Hughes. I own a lot of land around here and most of the town. We appreciate what you’re doing. If you need anything: food, blankets, or bullets, you let me know.” He pressed a business card into Josh’s hand. “Anything.”
“How is it this hospital has power?” Josh asked.
“Short answer: They had a Faraday cage, a whole room in fact, with a lot of necessary equipment. I’ll send an electrician over this afternoon. I think he has enough batteries and such to restore probably half your fleet.”
Josh eyed him warily. “Let me help you bring down that bastard,” Hughes said.
Patterson saw them and walked over.
“They don’t know.”
“Your place is here by your sister. We’re moving out in twenty.”
“I agree,” said Hughes. When it was clear Josh wasn’t going to introduce the two men, Hughes stuck out his hand. “Preston Hughes. I was telling Joshua here that I would like to make a sizable contribution to the war effort.”
“How do we know you’re not driving us into an ambush?’
“Do you mean the local book club of armed vigilantes?”
“No. Somebody is already working on that group. We’re the second wave. Some of us are traveling a little further.”
“Durango, maybe? It’s true what you’ve heard about the neo-Nazis up there. They’re a little more professional than the local bunch. Chances are they’ll be waiting for you.”
“At some time, we have to take the offensive.”
“Said like a general. From now on, everywhere you go they’ll be waiting for you. The element of surprise is over.”
“The worst part of this is that a lot of good people are going to die.”
“Just between you and me, General, do you have any hope of success?”
“I will do anything to stop Trump. He is clearly unfit to lead this country. Some of us stuck around his administration, moving dangerous objects and ideas out of his way like you would a two-year-old. If we hadn’t been there, we’d probably be ass-deep in World War III instead of where we are now: on the brink of civil war.”
“So what happens now?”
“We take back the country a little at a time.”
“Or die trying.”
Hughes had a big military-grade satellite phone that buzzed to indicate an incoming call. He listened, said “really?’ and quickly rang off.
“It seems your advance troops have successfully routed the local militia, but they’re not sure what to do with the prisoners.”
“Any suggestions?” asked Patterson.
“They’re probably totally useless to you. They’ve been radicalized by this president. The sheriff in Cortez belongs to their club, but I can call in a favor. We’ll lock them up ‘for their own protection’ and figure out what to do with them later.”
“Thanks. Nice meeting you. We’re heading out.”
“I’ll have a couple of RPGs waiting for you at the Exxon outside Durango. Go to Lou’s garage and ask for Preston. In the meantime, send over about 10 of your wimpy little trucks to Van’s Supermart, get whatever you need, and tell them to put it on my bill.”
“Thank you, Mr. Hughes. I’m glad you’re on our side.”
“I have to warn you: there are folks in Cortez who think Trump is the Second Coming. Watch out for snipers and crazy grandmas.”
Within an hour, there were 25 trucks ready to roll. Ten were sent to pick up supplies courtesy of Preston Hughes.
THIS CONCLUDES THE LATEST SEGMENT OF WORST-CASE SCENARIO: ELECTION NIGHT 2020. Let us all hope and pray that none of the events in this story come to pass. If you would like to know when the story resumes, sometime after November 3rd, leave an email address so we can announce the relaunch. Any comments or questions can be addressed at firstname.lastname@example.org.