This chapter is part of the Preppers on the Run Series. You can read the rest of the chapters here:
Chapter 1:The Escape [currently reading]
Chapter 2: The Journey Begins
“I can’t! It’s too high. And not so loud, they’ll hear you…”
“Yes you can.”
Robbie was at the window on the second floor, with his bug out bag in one hand, scared to death. Fortunately for him, it was pitch black outside and nobody could see him. No one except for his mother and younger sister who were anxiously waiting for him at the bottom.
What mother would beg her son to jump out the window? One whose home has been invaded by the gang of 5 men at 2:30 AM in the morning. These guys started terrorizing the town when the EMP hit a week ago. They took the law in their own hands, “protecting” the town during the day and looting their protegees during the night, believing no one would know it was them.
Sandra’s house is the 3rd one they looted this month because they know she’s a prepper. And now, little Robbie Jones was facing the test of his life. Either they all leave their home in the middle of the night, before their “neighbors” get to them, or they all die.
“Throw the backpack first, then jump on it.” said his little sister, Susie.
“What? Are you crazy?” Robbie’s eyes widened.
“She’s right”, said their mother. “This way you’ll land on something soft. That’s some quick thinking, Susie!”
“I can’t do this. I might as well go back and fight the brothers.” Robbie started to climb back in the window.
“No! Robert Jones, you get down here right now.” Mom was getting impatient.
“Listen to me. Throw… your… backpack…”
“S**t. Ok here goes…”
“Good.” said his mother. “Now let me put Susie’s bug out bag and mine next to each-other. This way you’ll increase your chances of landing safely”. She stressed that last word because she knew how to make her child less anxious.
“OK, now jump! Remember what we talked about all these years during our survival meetings.”
“And yet you didn’t buy a darn escape ladder, for times like THESE! “Robbie smirked. For a moment, there, he forgot the situation he was in.
“I’m sorry, baby. You know it was on my list. If only I knew…”
Before she could finish her sentence, some strong poundings were heard at the bedroom door. They were there.
“Just do it, Robbie. It’s all right. Mommy’s waiting for you. Just close your eyes and jump. We have to go. NOW!”
That last command went straight to her son’s brain. As he closed his eyes, the last thing he saw was his baby sister’s tears. The next thing he new, he was down and he could barely feel his left leg and hip.
Above him, the poundings on the door increased in intensity. The brothers were trying to bring down the door. They’ve already been through every room of the house, they knew they were there. The only question now: can Robbie walk? He was conscious, so that was a good start… but this stunt was NOT a good start for their bug out journey.
“Can you walk? “asked Susie while wiping away her tears.
“Only if I jump like a kangaroo”, he joked, in an attempt to make his sister feel better. His leg was hurting like hell, though.
“If we get to those trees over there, we are safe. They’re not gonna be looking for us at this time of night. Susie will get your bag and I’ll help you walk.”
Sandra’s feelings were mixed. On the one hand, she was terrified that she and her children had to abandon their home in the middle of the night. Robbie was her oldest and now his leg was most likely broken. Their home wasn’t theirs anymore. All their flashlights were damaged in the EMP blast. And, worst of all, they had to get as far away from their home as possible before the looters broke down the bedroom door and looked out the window.
It was the longest 12 minutes of their lives. But they made it. Hidden behind some trees, with 3-4 hours left until dawn. Were the brothers going to look for them in the morning? They weren’t sure. One thing they did know was that this was their first bug out. And it was like nothing they ever thought it would be. They never expected to camp so close to home. They never planned for one of them to be injured.
“But, mom, I want to stay with Robbie, he’s in pain.”
“I know baby but you need your strength. Get the ear plugs from my bag, they’ll help you sleep. You need your strength. We have a very long journey ahead of us.”
“How long?” asked Robbie, making obvious efforts to hide the pain from his little sister.
“It’s about 100 miles North. I know it only took us a few hours the last time we drove there but I don’t think we can take the car.”
“Why not?” asked Susie.
“Look… the lights are still on. I think they decided to stay here. Our home is these scumbags’ new home. And I can’t risk stealing my own car. They’ll surely catch me. And I just can’t bear the fact of leaving you two alone in the woods.”
Sandra was strong but the thought of her babies wandering alone in the woods was too much to bear. For the first time, a couple of tears stained her face. She was determined to take them to the bug out retreat no matter what. They were safe there.
“Is my leg broken?” asked Robbie. Sandra bent to check his leg.
“Thank God there’re no broken bones. Landing on our backpacks did help.” Sandra gave Susie a thumbs up.
“Are you sure?”
“Mommy’s a nurse. She’s sure. Now let’s all get some sleep, we have a long journey ahead of us. And my flashlight doesn’t work.” Susie said.
“I know, sweetie, it’s because of the EMP.”
“But it’s a Maglite!” Susie insisted.
For the first time that night, Sandra smiled.
“I know, Susie. The EMP wiped out all electronics. But I’ve got something in my bag that does work. Hold on… Use this!”
“A glow-stick? But how?” Susie was confused.
“It’s because of a process called chem… ah, forget it. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. Let’s make camp and get some sleep. And be sure to keep the stick as close to the ground as possible, we don’t want those lunatics seeing us. We’re still on our property and so are they!”
It was about 9 AM when Robbie woke up screaming. The pain in his leg reminded him that he was a long way to full recovery. Hearing her son scream, Sandra immediately took out her hand gun, ready to shoot whoever was attacking her son. Unfortunately, bullets can’t make the pain go away. She gave her son some anti-inflammatory from her own first aid kit so as to leave Robbie’s kit intact for him in case he outlived her.
“How’re you feeling?” she asked.
“A little better”. Robbie replied, making obvious efforts to hide his pain.
“You’re going to need a walking stick. We need to make one from a tree branch or something.”
“How will we find the right wood?” Robbie asked.
“It’s not hard, mommy will go look. You stay here and grab a bite to eat. We don’t have time to boil water for our freeze-dried food but you all have some dried food inside your backpacks.”
That’s when Sandra realized: she’d only packed food taking into consideration a 1 day bug out. She never imagined she wouldn’t be able to use her old Ford which, as she anticipated, “survived” the EMP. Now the brothers have it and there’s nothing she can do about it. Who wouldn’t want a working car in this day and age? Most cars are useless now, hers was one of the few in the town that was still working.
Sandra went straight to her maple tree but, at the same time, taking precautions to avoid being seen. Using a hatchet, she cut a straight branch about one inch in diameter. It should be more than enough for her 12 year old son. When she came back, she handed it over to her son saying:
“Ok, you need to make a few minor adjustments to your stick while I pack everything. We need to leave as soon as possible. Use my knife, it’s better, but careful not to cut yourself.”
“What should I do with it, mom?”
“Just remove the twigs, and we’re good to go. We don’t have the time and tools to put a rubber cap on it or to add a grip.”
As she was packing, Sandra was doing the math. 100 miles to cover, 5 miles a day, for the first few days, at least, until Robbie’s leg is better. The journey will take at least a couple of weeks, maybe less if they could push to cover 10 miles a day.
The worst part is, they only had food for a few days, TOPS. Water is not a problem. They each had a Sawyer Mini personal water filter, much better than the Lifestraw because it can purify 100 times more water. But food was going to be a huge problem.
Fortunately, they were all alive and had each-other, that’s what mattered for now. Sandra realized for the first time how important the mental aspect would be. In an 8 hour window, she lost her house, her car, half of her stockpile, and she almost lost her son’s leg.
She remembered the story of a woman from the time she was watching YouTube videos before the EMP. As that woman was telling the story, she had felt a big sense of relief for being alive despite losing her leg. That’s sort of how she felt right now.
“What do we have at our cabin in the woods, mommy?” Susie interrupted her mother’s train of thought.
“We have a huge stockpile of food that will last us at least 6 months and a river on the property with crystal-clear water. Fishing gear so we can all go fishing and board games! I can’t wait for us to play Settlers of Catan. In a way, we’re settlers too.” Sandra told Susie.
“Which way, mom?” Robbie asked. For the first time he had a sparkle in his eyes. He helped her stock up the bug out place and he knew they were gonna be safe there.
“We just follow the train tracks, Robbie. No one’s using them anymore and they’ll take us straight to our new home. Can you walk?”
“I sure can”, he replied. “I can’t wait to get there…”