Prepper's Crucible - Volume Six: The End

BOOK: Prepper's Crucible - Volume Six: The End
2.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Bobby Andrews











is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places
, and
incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events or places is




Synopsis of

and Cory return to Prescott after having located Ben’s sons and Cory’s sister,
Rachael. Tim, Rachael’s boyfriend and former corpsman turned doctor, joins the
group as well. They
are forced
to take a longer route
back to the ranch, where they find Eric and Justin, Ben’s sons, after passing
through Wickenburg on the way home. After making the trip, they arrive back to
discover the Mexican Army, determined to take back territory that once belonged
to Mexico, is occupying the town and the rest of the state. They also discover
that Don was murdered. The story picks up thirty-nine years in the future, when
Cory tells his story as the last surviving member of the group.






The contour of the land is an aid to the army; sizing up
opponents to determine victory, assessing dangers and distance. Those who do
battle without knowing these will lose.

― Sun Tzu,
Art of War


To my readers: You
have been a tolerant bunch of readers, and I appreciate that. I tried my best
to put out new installments quickly,
so as to
not to
make you wait too long for the next book. More than six hundred pages of
written text, edits, rewrites, and more edits was a challenge, but I did not
mind it when I saw your response to my books.

Words fail me when
I try to express my gratitude to you. I
you enough for allowing me to make a living at doing what I love to do. You are
the BEST! My wife would be the only person in the world to describe me as
sentimental, but the truth is, I am. When it comes to my new family – you – I
do get emotional at the way you all supported me and helped me pull this

I am taking some
time off and going back to hunting, fishing, camping, and exploring even more
the natural beauty that surrounds me here in Prescott. My shooting skills
declined over the last months, so I will also get some more training and attend
more competitions for a few months.

I hope the message
you take away from these books is that you really do need to be prepared. I
know that anything bad is going to happen. Who could
know that? What I do know is that the potential is always there, so why not do
something to get ready and give you and yours the best chance of getting
through it intact?

I end this series
with a sense of sorrow – I really grew to love these characters. They are as
real to me as your family is to you. In any event, I know I will continue
writing, but am not sure what comes next. Out of every ending comes a new
beginning. I really believe that, and I hope you do too.








Horace Binkley, the official historian of the
Arizona Territory, had finally managed to secure an appointment with Governor
Cory Redding. The former park ranger, leader of the great insurgency and then
governor of the Territory, had finally agreed to tell his story. The tiny man
almost shivered with delight as he entered the downtown plaza on his way to the
Pioneer Assisted Living Facility, where the former governor had lived the last
four years after disappearing at the end of his first term. Although he could
have run for a second term, he chose instead to live the life of a hermit, and
was not seen
for close to sixteen years, before he turned up
at the home. In the four years he spent there, he refused to see anyone; rumor
had it he only spoke to a few of the staff at the home. Horace was excited
about the prospect of interviewing him not only because he was an historian; he
also wrote opinion pieces for the largest newspaper in the state,
Prescott Courier
. His interview would bring him national fame, as the
was generally seen
as the George Washington
of his time. He was one of the very few who managed to organize an effective
partisan group that later became the famous Prescott Rangers, the only militia
in the Southwest that effectively fought back the Mexican Army. They paved the
road for the U.S. Army, and fought side-by-side with the military until the
were forced
to retreat back across the border
and lick their wounds for the next twenty years. That the interview was going
to take place on the
thirty-ninth anniversary of the EMP strike was
not lost on him. He
sure what it meant or why
the governor chose that particular day, but his happiness about getting the
interview outweighed those thoughts.

Horace was a tiny little pellet of a man, with a
pompous air about him that made him universally disliked. His face
was pinched
into a permanent frown, and he walked through
the plaza with short aggressive strides, moving quickly. He looked down at his
watch and realized he would be fifteen minutes early. Not wanting to appear too
eager, he slowed his pace and stopped in front of the three statues that lined
the front of the granite courthouse that looked over the square. The courthouse
was riddled
with pockmarks from the gunfire during the
final push against the Mexican Army more than thirty years earlier. Two
tourists were standing in front of the first statue, carefully reading the
inscription on the base of the monument. Horace stopped, and seeing a chance to
demonstrate his intelligence, approached the young man and woman reading the

“I’m guessing you’re not from here?” Horace said as
he approached the couple.

“We’re visiting relatives who live here,” the woman
timidly replied. She was a pretty woman,
with blonde hair carefully in place. Horace assumed the man was her husband by
the fact his arm
had been draped
around her as he
approached. The man was
and in his early

“My name is Horace Binkley,” he said, offering his
hand. After shaking both their hands he added, “I’m the state historian, and
there’s a lot more story behind these statues than you can read on that piece
of bronze. You want to hear more about these great men?” The poor little man looked
so anxious to talk to them that the man nodded his agreement. Horace moved
around them and stood in front of the statue. Turning, he said, “
is Bucky O’Neil. His largest claim to fame is that he
was a captain in Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
he’s mounted on the horse.
he was also a reporter
before that, and a lawyer. When he was a reporter, he covered the shootout at
the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. He moved here and became sheriff, and later the
mayor of the town.”

“Really?” the woman said, clearly enthralled.
Horace’s chest got a little bigger.

“He got to know Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday after
that gunfight, and they were friends until Bucky got himself killed at San Juan
Hill. Damn fool thought taking cover was a cowardly act, and was killed by a
sniper as he was walking around the front lines exhorting his men for the
attack that was about to take place.”

“Was San Juan Hill during the American-Mexican War?”
the man asked.

“No, that was the last war we had here. That was
more than thirty years ago. This was the Spanish-American War of 1898.” His
voice sounded the least bit superior when he said it. “Let’s move to next one,”
he added, after checking his watch.

“Okay,” the man said, and the couple followed Horace
to the middle statue. It was of a man holding a rifle over his head with an
expression of triumph etched on the bronze face.

“This one is Cory Redding. He is a former governor,
and you may have heard of him. Right after the American-Mexican War, he was
elected by an overwhelming majority.”

“I’ve heard of him,” the man interrupted. “We read
about him in history class.”

“Me too,” the young woman answered. “He was a great
man, according to my father.”

“That he was,” Horace replied, a little peeved at
having his monologue interrupted. “And,” he whispered conspiratorially, “I’m on
my way to interview him in a few minutes. It’s the first interview he’s granted
in close to 20 years.”

“He’s still alive?”

“Yes, he is.”

“You’re very lucky to be able to do that,” the woman

“I think it has to do with more than luck,” he
replied, although the shirt got a bit tighter at her admiration. “But back to
the matter at hand. The governor was a park ranger when the EMP hit. He went on
to become the leader of the partisans that fought the guerilla war with the
Mexicans and kept our hopes alive during the darkest days in the history of the
Territory. He was later elected governor and served one term, then disappeared
for decades.”

“Where did he go?” the man asked.

“That’s what I intend to find out today.”

“That should be interesting.”

“I’m getting short of time,” Horace replied. “Let’s
get to the last statue and then I have to go.”


 The last statue showed a man on a small hill,
rifle pointed downward as though firing
from above
“This is Don Murphy. He was a retired Army officer who led the fight to defend
the town against a gang of bikers who were about to take it over and raze the
entire town. He went on to be the first to organize the town to get hunting
parties going when the food from delivery trucks and local farms ran out in the
winter following the EMP. We know he and Cory were good friends, and that they
lived together on Don’s ranch. We also know he was murdered about two months
after the EMP struck, but
about it. We
really know much more about him. I interviewed several
people who knew him; but the other people that lived at the ranch all died
before I could get to them, so I am hoping to find out more today.”

“So, this interview is really important to you?” The

“The most important thing I’ll ever do if he
explains to me what happened between the time the EMP hit and we began to
record history again after he assumed the governorship.” His own statement
struck Horace. It was the most important moment in his life, and the act of
stating it gave him pause. He again checked his watch and said, “I really have
to go.
if I see you again, I hope to be able to
tell you more about that time.
important to know
what happened, and why. The details matter. We have most of the facts, but none
of the flavor.
like eating a steak without salt.
It’s still a steak, but it’s not quite right.” He stalked away with his
peculiar small-man gait. He crossed the square and began a gradual climb up to
the assisted living facility, wondering why the governor had chosen that
particular moment to grant the interview.

When he arrived at the home, he stopped and again
looked at his watch. He was still five minutes early, so he took a moment to
gaze at the building and think about the facility. The home had been funded by
the Arizona Legislature and was available to any native-born Arizonan. It
charged a percentage of a person’s income to live there, and if you made zero,
you paid zero. It was unique in that regard. It
was founded
in the early 1900s when the state realized it would have many founding members
who would be destitute in old age. The mining boom and bust made that a
certainty and the legislature moved to ensure that all Arizona founding families
would have a place to stay in old age, regardless of their wealth. The facility
only had 140 rooms, and the waiting list was long; but it still served the
Territory. Even during and after the EMP, the home operated with volunteers and
kept its doors open to the elderly.

The home sat perched on a high hilltop overlooking
the town, and each room had a balcony that faced in one of four directions.
Each room was private and all had views of the surrounding landscape. Arizona
took care of its favored sons and daughters in a manner unknown in other areas.
Horace felt proud of that fact, and finished the climb to the home in another
minute. He entered the building and stood in a huge foyer with a long desk
running across one side of the room. Several large, and older, men guarded the
narrow hallway that led to the elevators and ground-floor rooms. He walked to
the reception desk that
was staffed
by an elderly
woman with grey hair and a large smile. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Horace Binkley to see Governor Redding,” he
announced in his best authoritative voice.

“He prefers to be called Cory,” she answered. “You
can follow one of our guards to his room. Eric,” she called, motioning to a man
who guarded the hallway. “Please take this guy to see Cory. He has an
appointment, but make sure you frisk him and keep Cory safe.” Eric, a
grey-haired man with a wrinkled face and an unkempt ponytail, walked over to
where Horace stood. He rested his hand on the butt of an old hog leg pistol and
examined the guest carefully. “Hands over head,” he said. Horace raised his
hands and suffered a brisk pat down before lowering his hands.

“He’s clean,” Eric told the receptionist.

“Take him up to Cory’s room,” she replied. Eric led
off, one hand still on the butt of his pistol, and stopped at the elevator. He
pushed a button, the elevator arrived, and both men entered it. Eric pushed
another button that made the elevator rise to the third floor, and exited the
elevator behind Horace.

“Do you know the governor?” Horace asked as they
moved down a long institutional hallway.

“Served with him with the Rangers and after,” he
replied brusquely.

“You must have been pretty young,” Horace said
nervously. The man’s silence and steely gaze were intimidating.

“Nobody was young in those days.” He thought for a
added, “we all had to kill people back
then, no matter your age.” Horace clammed up, a bit put off by the rude
treatment, and they walked down the hall until they reached a door at the very
end of the hallway.

“Wait here. I’ll let you know if you can come in.”

“I have an appointment.”

“I said, wait here.” Eric glanced at him with steel
in his light blue eyes, and Horace again remained silent. Eric opened the door
and entered the room, then closed the door behind him. He emerged a minute
later and said, “
see you. Go on in.” Horace
entered the room and saw that it was empty. He looked to the balcony and saw a
man reclined on a chaise lounge and looked at Eric quizzically. “Go on,” Eric
said, motioning with his head for Horace to go out on the balcony. He followed
Horace out and leaned against the wall.

“Mr. Governor?” Horace asked. Cory was reclined on
the lounger, his eyes shut. An IV bag hung off a long pole that sat at the side
of his lounger. His face was slack, with folds of flesh hanging under his chin,
and his rail-thin body seemed unlikely for the hero that Horace knew him to be.

“Go ahead,”

“It’s Horace. We have an appointment.”

“Yes, we do.” The voice was faint and Cory still had
not opened his eyes.

Horace sat at a small table beside the lounger,
pulled a small notebook from the inside pocket of his jacket, looked at his
notes, and said, “
I ask you why you granted this

“You mean after twenty years of silence?”

“Well, yes.”

“You know there’s a vote coming up on whether
Arizona should rejoin the Union?”

“Of course.”

“That’s why you’re here. We need that vote to pass.”
Cory sat up and stared at the man sitting across the table from him. His eerie
light blue eyes glowed with the look of a highly intelligent man, and one who
was determined.

BOOK: Prepper's Crucible - Volume Six: The End
2.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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