This chapter is part of the Preppers on the Run Series. You can read the rest of the chapters here:
Chapter 3: [currently reading]
—Sandra watched proudly as Robby and Susie moved through the woods ahead of her. They had been walking along the tracks just inside the tree line for several hours. They were heading North and Sandra estimated they would reach the creek she found on her map within the hour. She sighed and slapped at a mosquito on her arm. She’d thought she was so ready for something like this. But the real thing was so different from the books and conversations on the prepper forums. Robbie had gotten hurt the very first day; Sandra blamed herself for delaying the purchase of a rope ladder, although his leg was getting better which was a relief. But her kids’ lives were at stake. What they were going through now was the real deal. Sandra was beyond stressed and felt woefully unprepared.
Robby’s whisper jarred her from her thoughts “Hey mom, I think I hear something up ahead.” Robby grabbed Susie by the hand, and they stopped and waited for Sandra to catch up.
“What did it sound like?” Sandra was peering ahead, but they weren’t on a path and the brush, and other foliage was too dense for a clear view.
“I’m not sure, not voices so maybe just an animal or something? The worried look on Robby’s face and his tight grip on his little sister’s hand, made Sandra smile. Robby was paying attention. He knew how important it was to avoid other people as much as possible. She was so proud of the man he was becoming.
“Okay we’re going to keep moving, but let’s go a little deeper into the woods, just in case.” Sandra turned and headed slightly east, Robby and Susie followed. Sandra pulled her pistol and was visually scanning the area she could see before taking each step. Instead of using the machete to make walking easier, they zig-zagged around the denser brush and foliage. If there was someone in the area, she didn’t want to cut a path for them to follow.
Sandra’s “spidey senses” were tingling the whole time, something just didn’t feel right anymore. “Hold up a minute kids.” Sandra stopped near a large oak tree with a double trunk. “I think we should hide some supplies here, just in case we do run into trouble near the river.”
“Good idea mom. I’ve got the shovel” Robby reached into his bug out bag and pulled out the folding shovel. “Is here okay?” Robby pointed to a spot just west of the large oak tree. Sandra nodded, and Robby started digging.
“Susie you should eat something honey and have a drink while we’re on a break.” Susie nodded and dug into her backpack. She pulled out some peanut butter crackers and her water bottle. Sandra glanced over her shoulder at Robby’s progress. “That’s probably deep enough now Robby.”
Sandra went through each bug out bag and pulled out duplicate items that could be left behind and retrieved later if need be. She dumped the contents of her personal hygiene kit from its one-gallon zip lock bag into her backpack and used that to make a waterproof case for the new stash of items. A lighter and a couple of tampons for emergency tinder went into the zip lock bag. An extra map of the area along with a list of relatives addresses in the area and a photo of the area near the path of their BOL. She took off her paracord bracelet and put in the bag along with Susie’s fixed blade knife and life straw from her pack.
Finally, she added some minor first aid supplies, a fishing kit stored in an Altoid tin, 1/3 of her cash, and several foil pouches of tuna fish to the zip lock bag. Sandra had two store-bought bottles of water in her bug out bag, so she added one of these along with the zip lock bag of supplies to the hole that Robby had dug. Robby filled the hole with dirt and covered it with leaves. When Sandra stood back to look, it was barely noticeable. “Good job, Robby. Okay, let’s find that river.”
The three started off heading North once more. Sandra glanced over her shoulder and realized Robby was still on high alert. And for once even Susie, the family chatter bug, was quiet. After they had walked for about a half hour without hearing anything else, Sandra decided it was safe enough to head North again. She signaled to the kids to pick up the pace once more. “The creek won’t be far now; we just have to keep going North.” Sandra’s voice sounded more confident than she was.
“I think I hear water mom” Robbie called over his shoulder. Sandra nodded. She could hear the water too. Reaching the creek was a long anticipated goal, the kids naturally started to move more quickly. Sandra started to call out to stop them but let it go and watched them push ahead. They needed to be kids when they could. Sandra rounded a dense area of brush and stopped short. Her heart sank at what she saw.
Two men were in the clearing along the river bank. A thin blond-haired man was holding Robby and Susie by their arm on either side of him. The other dark-haired man had a gun aimed directly at Sandra. “Hey there, pretty lady. Your kids here are real polite; you obviously raised them right. No sudden moves and they’ll be just fine.” Sandra nodded and stepped slowly closer with her hands in front of her.
“What do you want?” Sandra asked hesitantly.
“What does everyone want lady? Food, water, and supplies. We’ll take whatever you got.” The man’s voice was gruff and firm. Sandra wasn’t about to risk the lives of her kids for supplies, especially knowing they had just finished hiding a few supplies back at the tree.
“Okay, okay. We’ll give you whatever you want. Just please don’t hurt my kids.” Sandra carefully removed her bug out bag from her shoulder and tossed it on the ground in the direction of the men. “You can have the whole thing. Just please let my kids go.”
The large, dark-haired man walked toward Sandra, his gun still trained on her. He scooped up her backpack and then turned around to walk back towards his partner. Just then, a gunshot on the opposite side of the river surprised all of them. As the men both turned toward the sound, Robby wrestled his arm free and shoved the thin man to the ground. “Robby, run!” Sandra yelled as she dashed toward Susie. Sandra grabbed Susie by the hand just as Robby disappeared into the treeline.
Unfortunately, the man holding Susie’s arm recovered and jumped to his feet. He yanked Susie back toward him and put his knife to her neck. “Now, now mama, stop right there.” Sandra sighed and took a step back.
“Okay, okay, you win. Please, she’s just a little girl.” Sandra pleaded with the man. She could hear the other man crashing through the woods looking for Robby. She prayed that Robby was safe. “You can have the supplies. Just please let us go.”
“Oh, we’re going to take your supplies. But you and the girl are coming with us.” The man sneered at her. He called out to his partner. “Bill, you find him yet?”
“Naw, he ran like a scared rabbit! He’s gone.” Sandra let out a sigh of relief. Robby had gotten away. And he still had his backpack. She hoped he would also remember how to get back to the other supplies they buried. Although Robby was pretty smart when it came to survival, she didn’t want to think of him being out there alone. Maybe he would find help.
Bill came up behind her and grabbed her by the arm. “You two are coming with us. No more tricks.” He pulled Sandra’s hands behind her back and secured them with what felt like a zip tie. Susie started to cry.
“It’s okay Susie. Mommy’s here.” Sandra tried to reassure her daughter, but the look on her face was heartbreaking. She continued to sob quietly. “Just do as they say, Susie. It will be okay.”
“Start walking.” The man named Bill growled and shoved the middle of Sandra’s back with one hand, pushing her east along the river. Reluctantly Sandra started walking. She could hear the other man and Susie moving behind them. Her mind was racing as she tried to think of a way out of this mess.
Robby watched from his hiding place in the treeline as the men push his mom and sister east along the river. He was terrified to be out here alone. He couldn’t decide whether to follow them and go back for the supplies he knew were buried not far away. He carefully scanned the area, taking note of landmarks near the river.
Not far from the water’s edge, there was a large rectangular rock. It was tilted, so one corner was higher than the other three. Deciding he could find that rock easily enough if he needed to come back for the supplies, Robby moved along the tree line as quietly as he could, following his mom and the captors. He wasn’t sure how he was going to save his family yet, but he knew it was in his hands now.