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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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As they were searching the bridge and slowly moving across it in pairs, Grant was glad they had frequently practiced night operations at Marion Farm. For some reason, they had not done much night training before he came out to Pierce Point. The Team had done one night shoot with Ted back before the Collapse. They had done some training at night at the meth house back at Pierce Point, but that was it.

If Grant could have done it over again, he would have done at least half of their training in the dark. Regardless, they were doing a decent job tonight and were still much better than any civilians and most law enforcement. They were better than almost any unmotivated National Guard unit, though they would get beaten badly by a regular military unit. Hopefully there weren’t any of those around.

After several minutes of very careful movements and plenty of time to scan for threats, they were across the bridge. This was the most dangerous time. Any halfway intelligent attackers would wait for them to get across the bridge and then attack, probably with attackers back at the entrance to the bridge too, cutting off their escape.

The brewery had several large buildings, each of which was surrounded by a very high chain-link fence. There were gates in front of each building. The Team fanned out from the bridge toward the first gate. Bolt cutters! Grant forgot to bring bolt cutters. What an idiot.

The gate was locked. They went to their right toward the next gate, which was already cut open. Good news.

Or was it? They quickly realized that this meant others could easily go into that building. Maybe lots of them. They huddled together.

“Ideas?” Grant asked.

“Let’s go see who’s in there,” Pow said. “We’ll sneak up on them. If they didn’t get us on that bridge, they suck and will continue to suck. We can sneak up on them in that building.”

“No lights on in there,” Bobby said. “It’s probably abandoned.”

Grant doubted that. With the Second Great Depression going on, he knew these sorts of places would have to be full of squatters, and those squatters would fight like hell to protect their “home.”

“We look for all the doors, see if they’re open, and go in simultaneously from as many directions as possible?” Grant asked.

“I guess so,” Pow said after a brief silence. No one had a better idea.

“Everyone got fresh batteries in their lights?” Grant asked, pointing at his weapon light. Everyone nodded. They would be relying on their lights right now, so this would be a terrible time for one to go out. Not only did they have fresh batteries in their lights, but they all had at least two sets of backup batteries in their kit. Batteries were second only to ammunition in importance in their kit.

“Okay,” Grant said, “I’ll go around the building and try all the doors.” He pulled out a permanent marker from his kit. “I’ll mark each door that’s open with an ‘X’. I’ll put a ‘No’ on closed doors. You guys can stay here in a defensive perimeter. No use splitting all of us up to go check the doors. If there’s shooting, it might as well be at one of us instead of all of us.”

They nodded. They had all taken turns on point. Grant felt like it was his turn. Besides, he was in a hurry and wanted to get into this building and get it cleared for the rest of the convoy. He was getting nervous about that convoy just sitting there in what was now darkness.

Grant paused for about a minute as he and the Team quietly listened for any sound, any sign of life in that building or from anywhere else.

Nothing. There was a lot of gunfire in the distance, and the hum of the big street lights, but nothing from the brewery. There were no people talking, no barking dogs, no vehicles. In fact, there were no cars—zero—out on the streets.

That didn’t seem right. Something was up. He readied himself for whatever was about to happen. He had the raid on the meth house under his belt, but the brewery felt different. Ten times harder than the meth house.

Grant looked at the building he was about to check on. It was four stories and there were no lights on. The windows on the first floor were boarded up, but the windows on the upper floors weren’t. Most of the upper-floor windows were broken.

There was trash everywhere. It blew around in the street. Garbage pick-up had ended months ago when the city ran out of money. Besides, it was extremely dangerous to travel around town, so who in their right mind would go out and pick up garbage? The place looked like Detroit.

But then again, most of the country looked like Detroit now. Grant remembered arguing with his liberal friends before the Collapse that the big-government polices they loved so much would lead to the “Detroit-ification” of America. They had laughed at him. Now he was looking at a boarded up brewery that once employed hundreds, surrounded by trash blowing through the streets.

As Grant took off toward the first door, he thought that this would be an okay way to die. It’s gonna happen anyway, he thought. Heaven will be way better than what’s down here. And he’d be with his guys when he died. Doing something for the unit. Trying to fix things. He actually smiled. This would be an okay way to die, he repeated to himself.

Grant used his weapon light to see his way. He came up to the first door, which was locked. He marked it with a big “No.” He went to the next door. Same thing. Locked. He went to the third door and gently pushed on it. It was open! He marked it with a big “X.” Okay, there’s at least one open door which made it even more likely that squatters—or Limas—were in there.

Grant wanted to open that door and see, but he knew that would be stupid. If people were inside and heard that, they’d be ready for an attack. No, Grant needed to have the whole Team—and preferably the Team from several directions—open those doors and go in ready to shoot. Curiosity killed the cat and might kill Grant if he didn’t hold back his curiosity. So he forced himself to move on to the next door.

The fourth door was open, too. He marked it with an “X.” Two doors to enter from. Good. That was far better than just one.

Without opening the door, Grant looked around for any signs of life in the building. None, just the trash blowing around. He was trying to see if any of the trash indicated people living in there, like food wrappers or even freshly soiled baby diapers. He didn’t see any trash indicating current occupants, but it was dark and he was trying not to lose his concentration on threats that might pop out when he was staring at the garbage.

Grant went around the last side of the building to see if there was another door, which there wasn’t. Just four doors on three sides. It was dangerous moving on this last side of the building because it faced the street and there was a street light. He would be silhouetted. Oh well, he said again to himself. Nothing was perfect out here. He had no choice but to play the hand he was dealt. Grant had to check this last remaining side of the building. He couldn’t have his guys running through that area only to find out a bunch of Limas were sitting there. He had to be able to go back and tell his guys that there was no one on the outside perimeter of the building.

Grant carefully advanced along the last side of the building. He was moving from behind cover each time. He turned his weapon light off since the street light illuminated the area well. The only purpose his weapon light would serve right now would be as a big “shoot here” target.

Grant looked at the street lights. They illuminated the rain coming down. It had turned from a steady rain to a light drizzle. Grant was soaking wet. He was glad he had that black knit hat to keep his head warm. HQ had even given him a little patch with a second lieutenant’s bars. Grant had stapled that onto his knit cap. That’s how low-tech they were: lieutenant’s bars stapled onto a hat.

In the drizzle, Grant was glad he had Mechanix shooting gloves to maintain his grip on his rifle. The Team always trained with gloves on. Good shooting gloves, which weren’t too expensive, protected hands from sharp edges, hot barrels, and accidental cuts from all the knives they used in the field. Any one of those things could injure a hand and put a guy out of action. Grant realized that he was hardly noticing something else: that he was wet and cold but didn’t care. All he cared about was clearing that building and getting the 17th in there safely.

Grant stopped when he got to the last corner. He didn’t want to run around that corner and have the Team shoot him, so he used one of the most low-tech communication devices they had. He had learned it from his Indian grandfather, although Grandpa never envisioned it being used that way.

He moistened his lips and let out a bird call. It wasn’t a fancy one, or one that was particularly good. It was just a whistle loosely based on the sound birds in the area made.

The guys recognized that a person was doing a bird call and, given how much time Grant had been out, figured it was about time he would be coming around that corner. They gave him the same “bird call” back from around the corner. Good. The guys now knew that it was him and not an enemy. Grant realized that in training and planning they should have come up with a standardized and recognizable fake bird call.

As Grant rounded the corner with his weapon pointed around it but with his safety on, he saw the Team in a defensive perimeter. Grant joined up with them.

“Four doors, on three sides of the building,” he said. “Doors one and two,” Grant pointed to them, “are locked and have a ‘No’ on them. Doors three and four are on the second and third sides, unlocked, and have an ‘X’ on them.”

“Did you look inside them?” Scotty asked. He was hoping that Grant had done so and found that no one was in that building. He really didn’t want anyone to be in that building.

“Nope,” Grant said. “I wanted all of us there when we announce our presence.”

Pow split the Team into two groups of three men. He was the tactical commander and did a magnificent job at such things. Grant was glad to take a back seat on the building entry. He wanted it to be successful far more than he wanted to be the one in charge. Besides, Grant tried to be “lieutenant-like” in front of the rest of the unit; he didn’t need to be that way in front of the Team.

Pow said that both groups would go the long way, which was the way Grant had originally gone, so they wouldn’t have to go along the fourth side of the building with the street light; they could approach the final door, in the darkness.

There was risk to this. What if some Limas who were not on that side when Grant went by it had now located there? That was less of a risk than having half the Team spotted from a big street light.

They took off. The first group—Grant, Ryan, and Wes—stayed by the third door and waited.

Grant thought about body armor. He wished they all had it, but Pow was the only one with it. Body armor had been widely sold in the run up to the Collapse, but with all the other things they needed—guns, ammo, gear—it was always a second-tier luxury. But, man, Grant wished they’d secured some when they could.

The second group—Pow, Scotty, and Bobby—got to the fourth door. They would go in first and signal to the first group to do the same. They didn’t have radios to coordinate this. They were a low-budget, low-tech, semi-amateur SWAT team, free styling.

Grant could feel, and actually hear, his heart pounding. He wondered if others could hear it.

He heard the second group entering the building, which was their signal. In a split second, Grant threw the door open. Ryan was the first in the door, weapon light on. Wes followed right behind him, with his hand on Ryan’s shoulder so they wouldn’t get separated. Grant took one last look around to his rear to make sure no one was coming after them. It was clear so he ran into the building.

It was pitch black except for the crisscross light beams from the weapon lights. It looked like a giant light saber fight from Star Wars.

Then Grant heard exactly what he didn’t want to hear.

 

Chapter 293

“We’re here to put the Bad People in Jail”

(January 1)

 

 

The sound of screaming children filled the building. They sounded terrified and were screaming their lungs out.

Grant had no idea what to do, and it was clear that the Team was also at a loss. They kept doing what they’d trained to do: sweep the whole area with light and be ready to shoot any threat that appeared. That was it. It wasn’t much of a plan.

Someone was yelling for the kids to be quiet and to get to the “hiding place.” From the little patches of light that Grant could see in front of his rifle, and from all the sweeps in various directions he had made, it looked like this building didn’t have any interior walls. There were kids running everywhere, several dozen of them. They ranged from about five years old to teenagers, but most were younger kids. Screaming.

The Team fanned out as best they could with the kids running in their way. It looked and sounded like they were gathering in one place, and then the Team heard them running upstairs. Oh great. There were more floors to clear, which meant they were now exposed to potential Limas or armed, scared kids waiting for them at the top of the stairs. Pow yelled out for the two who were closest to him to stay down on the first floor while the remaining four went up the stairs. The two staying on the first floor turned out to be Bobby and Scotty.

Pow, Grant, Ryan, and Wes ran toward the staircase. They could see they were chasing lots of kids and a few teenagers toward the stairs. The kids were still screaming and crying. Grant thought it was unfortunate that they had to terrify these children even more than they already were, but they had to see if there were any armed threats in the building.

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
11.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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