Castle Roland

Day of N

by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 8

Posted: 15 Jun 15

Day of N

Kyle Aarons

Place   Latitude   Longitude
Prairie Dog State Park Kansas   39.804316   -99.954987
Farmhouse   39.702333   -100.331268
Missile launch site   39.989523   -101.379384
Benkelman Neb.   40.050811   -101.534958

Name  Age   Eye Color   Hair Color  Weapon(s)
Devin 12 Blue Black
Hunter 12 Grey Brown Shotgun
Angus (Gus) 12 Green Red .22
Gage 11 Blue Sandy .308
Zeki (Zeek) 11 Brown brown
Ramsey (Ram) 12 Brown sandy .22
Vernon (Vern) 11 blue blond musket

Up in the plane the gunshots got both Devin and Angus' attention. The two boys looked out from around the edge of the open cargo area and looked down at the farmhouse and barn. Not being able to see much and hearing a long break in-between the round of shots, Angus shook his head and went over to one of the bodies. He came back with a pair of binoculars and looked down at the farm. Seeing nothing, then hearing another few shots, he looked back over at Devin. "The newb took some rifles. I bet he is showing them how they work."

"Shouldn't we go check?"

"You're the assistant patrol leader, not me." Angus countered, "But if there is some kind of problem, I'd prefer to go down in an armored Hummer. We got it off the wall, now all we have to do is find where they keep the jack, pull the tire off and slap on one of the spares sitting on the hood of the other one behind us."

Devin thought it over for a few seconds then nodded. He went to the back and started rummaging around for a jack. The problem was the vehicle was loaded down to the point of stupidity with what appeared to be random, hastily grabbed stuff. "Either they left in a hurry, or this is the most disorganized military unit ever!"

"The way those creeps acted, my money is on both." Angus growled and he realized the spare tire tied to the hood of the third Hummer was filled with ammo boxes. "But yeah, I'm betting they loaded what they had handed to them, then just started grabbing whatever they thought they could get away with, which actually looks like a lot. I think there is even a trailer hooked to this back one, but there is so much crap on top of it, I'm not even sure if it is hooked up or not."

Curiosity got the better of him as he started climbing over the piles of stuff. Finally he got behind what he thought were the two pallets of stuff only to find ten more. Seeing a tag on one of them he pulled out his flashlight. Even as he read the tag, it didn't make much sense, "Hey Devin!"

"I still haven't found it," came Devin's muffled yet shouted reply. "Give me a couple more minutes!"

"No, dude… come back here and take a look at this!"

Devin let out a curse as he hit his head on something. After a few moments pause he started working his way toward the front of the plane. "Holy mother!" Devin stated with awe. "There is way more in here than I thought!"

"Yeah…" Angus nodded. "Those two huge front pallets and the trailer with all the stuff on it blocked all this…" He paused as the distinct crack of seven more evenly spaced shots caused him to briefly turn back toward the plane's ramp.

Devin gripped the double-barreled shotgun tightly and turned.

"Dude, relax," Angus chided. "Those were way too even to have been anything but practice, and if we are all going to end up with one of these military guns, we're going to have to take some live fire as well."

Devin chewed his lip but finally nodded in agreement. "Yeah, but I get nervous holding any kind of a gun, let alone an army one."

"You'll get over it," Angus assured his friend. He then tapped the tag on one of the still shrink-wrapped pallets and pointed his flashlight at it. "What do you make of this?"

Devin moved up and read aloud. "POW Camp, one of ten…" He frowned deeply, "Doesn't POW stand for Prisoner of War?"

Before more could be said, there was a loud thump from the other side of the pallets. A few seconds later it was followed up by three clang sounds, as if something metal was hitting metal.

Both Angus and Devin stayed right next to each other, and they could feel how fast each other's heart was racing as they looked around the last line of pallets. Just as they did so, there were three more loud bangs which caused them both to jump some.

Angus giggled a bit nervously as he peeked around the side and spotted a door leading forward. A moment later there was another set of three clangs and it clearly came from the other side. He jerked his head back and took a few long calming breaths. "Someone is alive up front!"

"We can't just leave him there!" Devin whispered, but was clearly terrified as his squeaky voice gave testament to.

Angus glanced at the door again, nodded slowly, then held up his hand to cut off any talk from Devin. Before anything more could be said, he quickly wiggled his way back over the pallets. Devin watched his friend disappear but his attention quickly returned to the front of the aircraft as the three clangs were repeated. "Angus!" Devin spoke softly yet tensely, "Where in the name of God did you go?"

Three more louder clangs once again forced Devin to direct his full attention forward. He gulped and pulled up the shotgun, as fear started to take over.

Fortunately, a moment later the light from Angus' flashlight lit up the area again giving the rattled boy some much needed light. Seeing Angus' head reappear over the top of the pallet further calmed him. "My dad would beat my butt for cussing, but damn-it, don't ever disappear on me like that again!"

Angus rolled over the last pallet and slid down the side just as three more metallic bangs echoed through the whole plane. He pulled up a pistol and handed it over to Devin, who took it but shook his head at the same time.

"Look, you know how to shoot one; we both do thanks to those NRA guys who gave us the shooting class last Christmas when we did the snow campout. And, like it or not, you are right, if there is someone who needs help, we have to check. We also know some of those who came off this plane weren't nice guys, so we have to be ready. If you remember their class, they pointed out why a pistol is better than a long gun sometimes, and this is one of those times. A rifle is too big for in here and a shotgun could send pellets off the walls and back into us. Just take it and be ready just in case, "I'll go first."

Devin started to nod, then shook his head. "Gus, not only are you better with guns than me, but I'm also scared shitless right now. Let me open the door and you handle whatever happens."

"OK, just get out of the way so I have a clear shot if I need it."

With shaking hands, Devin moved up to the door to the cockpit and pulled on it. When it didn't budge, he pushed it, again nothing. A female voice came from the other side. "It's bent. Find something to pry it open… Please…"

Angus lowered the pistol and moved up to the door, "Does it open in or out?"

"Out," the voice shouted back.

Devin and Angus looked at each other and spoke at the same time, "Crowbar!"

While Devin went back to retrieve it, Angus tried to start up a conversation to see what he could find out. "How many of you are up there?"

"Just me," the woman replied. "All able pilots, even those who were not fully certified, were split up to get as many aircraft off the ground as possible."

"But from what we heard you were up for days…"

"Yeah, something like two to two and a half days... I was able to get some sleep by having the Major come up and watch the autopilot, but once the engine started to flame out, I had him go back with the men. Then we took a hard lightning hit, maybe more. I brought her in the best I could but we hit hard and the seat partially broke loose and I've been stuck here ever since. How many made it back there?"

Angus turned and looked back over his shoulder and cringed, "Not many."

"I held it the best I could…" The woman started sobbing.

Devin came back with the pry bar and stuck it into the frame around the edge of the door. He tried three times, but finally gave up. "It ain't budging!"

The woman on the other side of the door screamed in panic at hearing Devin's words. "You got to get me out of here!"

Angus dropped his pack off to the side, grabbed onto the crowbar and braced his feet on this side of the doorframe. "Hold on!" He then gritted his teeth and pulled with everything he had. At first it didn't even wiggle, but then he felt something give and somehow found the little extra everyone has, but most people never have to dig deep enough to find. With a loud screech of metal on metal, much like fingernails across a chalkboard, the door finally gave up the fight and opened about a foot.

Angus put his own weight into the fight and leaned on the bar forcing the door open another eight inches. Finally he leaned his bar against the fuselage and stretched out his fingers, while Devin took a quick peak with the flashlight and ducked back out. "Best I can tell, she's alone, but I think she's pinned cause the seat is up against the dashboard."

"I already said I was!" The woman yelled. "Now please, I've been stuck here for God only knows how long. Can I get some water? I ran out and can't get up to get more… and can someone help me get out of this seat?"

Angus tried to squeeze in, but couldn't quite make it. He picked up the bar again, climbed up on the nearest pallet and stuck the pry bar into the top. Once again it took everything he could find within himself to force the door open a bit more.

He took a second, jumped back down and managed to slide in through the door. He played his flashlight around the cockpit, noting much heavier, darker clouds were once again building and lightning flashed all up and down the horizon to the west. "Devin, go find the jack. We need to get out of here soon!"

The woman craned her neck and finally managed to catch sight of Angus, "I thought you sounded young."

"Twelve," Angus confirmed. "Thirteen in October, Halloween to be precise." He moved up and noticed the woman wore a different uniform than the men in the back. It had U.S. Air Force on the side he could see. He moved up and stopped short as he realized a piece of the aircraft was sticking out of the floor and had embedded into her right shoulder. On the floor around her were four empty water bottles and her left hand still gripped a microphone even though it was ripped loose from the overhead controls. She was clearly no longer fully aware of her circumstances.

For a rather odd moment, it kind of reminded Angus of a fish on a stringer. She could move some, but she was anchored to the control panel and she was trying to get away not realizing she couldn't. "Ma'am, you're, um…"

The woman looked over quizzically, then suddenly nodded, showing she was in and out when it came to her surroundings. "I know, but I'm kind of stuck…" She then looked up again, "Can I at least get some water? My last bottle is empty."

Angus moved up and carefully poured a couple of mouthfuls into the lady's mouth. "Devin, see if there is a hacksaw or bolt cutters back there!"

"There are bolt cutters in the back of the Hummer. I have had to move them like four times."

"Bring them up and then keep working to find the jack. I think we got another big storm heading our way!" Angus shouted, then moved to the door so Devin wouldn't come in and see what was going on. After seeing the way his friend had reacted to blood and death up to this point, he really didn't want him freaking out. It wouldn't help them get the Hummer up, nor would it help the woman. Her condition was already iffy and he didn't want to make it worse with Devin screaming or puking.

The second he had the bolt cutters, and made sure Devin was moving back to find the jack, he turned and stepped up to the jagged piece of metal. As he put the cutters up to the jagged, half-inch around metal piece, he glanced over, "This might hurt."

"It stopped hurting hours ago, maybe a day or more ago… Please just get me loose."

Angus moved the cutters up as close as he could to the shoulder and slammed them together as hard and fast as he could. The metal cut easily, but the movement of the metal in the shoulder caused the woman to grab her mouth with her good hand and stifle a scream. A moment later she blacked out.

Angus dropped the heavy tool off to the side and steadied the woman while undoing her seat harness. This proved a bit tricky, since he had to use a knife to cut part of it off her, so nothing disturbed the hunk of metal sticking out of her shoulder. It became even more difficult when he realized the woman was stiff, almost like she was frozen into the seated position he had found her in. For a moment he thought he had killed her, but then noticed she was breathing. "What in the name of God am I supposed to do now?"

Kneeling, he tried a couple of times to straighten out the woman's arms and legs with no luck. Rubbing his right hand through his hair, he took a deep breath and looked around. As he did so, he spotted a yellow box with a Civil Defense emblem on it in the copilot seat.

He scooted over, grabbed the box and let out a huge sigh of relief. This was exactly what they had come to find. He opened it just to verify there was a Geiger counter in it and set it down to focus back on the woman. "Devin, I found what we are looking for, but I'm going to need your help to get this lady out of here!"

"Hold up," came a muffled reply. "I've almost got this tire changed!"

"It ain't like I'm going anywhere, but we need to get going. Those storm clouds are getting closer and it looks nasty."

It took a couple of minutes for Devin to reappear and help grab the woman. While Angus held his small flashlight in his teeth so they could see, Devin shivered lightly, "Why is she so stiff?"

Angus shrugged and tried to say something, but with the flashlight clenched in his teeth, the words were totally unintelligible.

Working the woman around the first set of pallets proved to be a real challenge. Things became even worse as the woman suddenly started going into convulsions. While not overly violent, it caught both boys off guard and they dropped her. "Oh, crud!" Angus shouted, spitting out the flashlight as he did so. He bent down to check on the woman and watched as the muscle tremors subsided some. He looked over to where the metal was sticking out and let out a relieved sigh as he saw no new blood. He moved around to grab her again, but stopped as he noticed a mini recorder had fallen out of her flight vest. With a bit of guilt he pocketed the device and once again picked her up with Devin's help.

If anything, this time it was a bit harder because she was not quite as rigid. Devin let out a long breath as he noticed the legs were a bit more flexible and the woman had landed on yet another dead soldier he had not noticed until he made contact with the body. "I'm going to have nightmares over this, Gus."

Angus nodded as he put the flashlight back in his teeth. Getting over the trailer proved to be the hardest, since there was so much tossed on top of it. Climbing up and over the tarp covering it, so he could pull her over, his foot caught and pulled on the edge. Jumping down, the tarp came with him revealing a Civil Defense generator and a pair of large fuel tanks.

"Wow…" Devin stopped and looked at the set-up with wide eyes. "We could, like maybe power up a whole house!"

"Probably more," Angus whistled softly, while reaching up to grab the woman again. "But we need to grab what we can and get going. We'll have to come back for it."

Devin did his best to carefully lower the much larger woman down, "But what if the bridge goes out?"

"Then we find another way around." Angus finally responded to the question as he put the woman in the passenger seat and put the flashlight back in his pocket. "Let's get back to the cockpit, grab the Geiger counter, a few cases of those MRE's, some ammo, a couple cases of bottled water and several of the big backpacks strapped to the side of the plane. You grab the packs, I'll get the rest."

Devin was breathing hard by the time he shoved the eighth combat pack up on the roof of the Humvee. "I think we're full!"

Angus looked around and nodded, but tossed another case of MRE's up on the roof before using a long bungee cord to secure it. "Let's go. The thunder is getting louder by the minute."

Devin shoved some stuff out of the way and slid in behind Angus. "I'm glad your dad makes you drive the tractors sometimes."

"You could drive this," Angus chuckled as he fired up the engine and pulled out of the back of the plane. "It's an automatic." He then took a hard turn so he didn't go down the hill. The tires spun in the mud for a moment before getting traction and he headed down the hill.

It didn't take long to get down to the hill. He did note he had to keep the steering wheel tilted to the right, meaning something was trying to force the front to go left, but there was nothing he could do about it and it wasn't terrible. Even as Angus pulled up next to the barn, the others were coming out. Hunter opened the passenger door and stopped. "What the…"

"The pilot," Devin explained from the back. "She was stuck in the pilot area."

Hunter looked back up to the plane. "We still need a Geiger counter…"

"Got one," Angus pointed to his pack. "We need to go before the next storm comes. The bridge was almost flooded before!"

Hunter looked back to the west and cringed as lightning angrily danced across the entire skyline. "OK, but we need to make room for Scott's dad and little sister. The rest of us will have to hang on the top, hood, and the back bumper so take it easy, but get us back to our farmhouse before we get nailed!"

While Scott all but shoved some of what Devin and Angus piled into the back over on Devin so they could get the man and his younger sister inside, the others climbed up on the already overloaded vehicle and grabbed on to whatever handhold they could find. With the thunder getting loud enough to feel as well as hear, Hunter banged on the roof, "Go!"

Since all views of what was behind him were blocked by gear and bodies both inside and out, Angus simply concentrated on staying on the road and getting back to the farmhouse. Going over the bridge caused Angus to grit his teeth as he could see water spraying up over the tires and up above the side window. In some ways, having all the extra weight actually helped since he didn't hydroplane, but seeing water rolling over the lower rails of the bridge did cause his heart to speed up.

Once on the other side he slowed to a crawl and opened the door while yelling out, "Do we still have everyone?"

"Yeah!" Vernon screamed back as a bolt of lightning hit a tree in a windbreak only a quarter of a mile away. "Get us out of here!"

With the bridge behind him, Angus pushed up the speed some, but still kept it below forty. Once again, the weight in and on the vehicle helped, but his hands gripped the wheel so tightly his knuckles were white. It didn't help it kept wanting to pull to the left either, but the sound of the approaching storm prevented him from going slower. He slowed as he saw the turn in to the farm and had to really fight to make the left hand turn, but did so, barely. At the last second he flashed the lights on the truck in the pre-arranged pattern so he could show Mr. Korbal they were friendly. Even as he pulled to a stop only a couple of feet from the entrance, Zeki and Ramsey came out.

Hunter jumped off the side and eyed Zeki, "You OK?"

The boy shook his head, "No, but me not feel more earth shakes no more, so better."

"Good!" Angus spoke loudly. "Then help us get as much of this inside as we can while I help get the injured adults in."

Hunter wasted no time organizing a makeshift bucket brigade to pass equipment from the Humvee into the house. Once the line was set, he had Scott help Angus with Scott's dad and then the woman. Just as the heavy rain started to slash into the group, and lightning blazed overhead, the last of the supplies were snagged by those outside and everyone ran for the cover and safety of the house.

Mr. Korbal worked his way down the stairs and eyed the new arrivals with a great deal of suspicion, but once he saw the two adults were injured, he forced himself to remain as calm as he could force himself. Looking at the wide assortment of equipment and weapons further calmed his nerves some. "Nice haul, boys. Who are your new friends and were those gunshots we heard?"

Vernon nodded, "Some of the army guys were trying to take the girls and then us."

"We had to take some of them out," Gage added.

Steven shook his head sadly, "I warned you kids not to trust people just because they are in uniform…"

Scott lowered his semi-conscious dad onto one of the futons. "Your kids saved us, mister."

Steven took a deep breath and to prevent saying anything to hurt feelings, he focused in on something he could deal with as he moved over to the teen. "Your nose and lips are a mess."

"Butt stroke to the face," Angus grumbled. "If we would have jumped in sooner, he wouldn't have taken the shot at all, but we just didn't want to jump in…"

Nikki jumped into the conversation, "Without you five we'd be dead or worse. Don't beat yourself up."

Steven pushed up on Scott's chin. "Hunter, get me some gauze rolls out of that kit."

Hunter knelt down and started digging, "Why…"

Before more could be said or asked, Steven let go of Scott's chin and grabbed his nose. He didn't hesitate in the slightest at inserting two fingers in the nostrils and twisting slightly. While the teen let out an anguished cry, Steven let go and looked back at Hunter, "Cause now you need to pack his nose."

Almost every kid in the room turned his or her head and cringed while Scott sank to his knees trembling and holding onto his face.

Steven looked down with limited sympathy, "Don't push on it or I'll have to do it all over again."

Scott took in several deep breaths and looked up with a glare just as large hailstones started slamming into the house. "You could have warned me!"

"And you would have braced and tightened up your face muscles which would have caused more pain and made it harder for me to get it as straight as I did. Let Hunter shove some packing up there and leave it be for a few hours. We'll change it so they don't harden in there a couple of times then just let it be, but you'll have to be careful not to bump it into anything for a while. Trust me, you don't want me to have to reset it again when it is partially healed, because then I may have to break some of the healing."

Scott leaned his head back and let Hunter push some gauze up into his re-bloodied nose. As he did so, he griped the edge of a lounge chair so hard his fingernails punctured the fabric.

Steven moved up, looked and gave a nod of approval. "Now lean way forward until the bleeding stops, so you don't let blood go down your throat. We don't want you getting sick on us."

Satisfied the youngster was going to do as he was told, Steven moved up to look over the father. He eyed Hunter, and looked back at the bullet wound. "Quickclot bandages, huh?"

Hunter nodded and pointed to the field medic kit. "There are several more in there. I didn't even know they existed!"

"There are some available for non-military use, but they are pretty new and very expensive, so I'm not surprised you haven't heard of them…" He let out a long breath, "You probably did the right thing in using one of them, especially as pale as he looks. Losing more blood would have probably killed him, but I'm not sure about taking the Quickclot gauze out of the wound without a hospital. One thing we can't do is leave it in there and let the wound heal with them still inside him. It is meant to be temporary."

"How'd you do it in the Army?" Angus wondered aloud as he took a look at the hole and noticed edges of gauze poking out both sides. Before Steven could answer, Angus glanced over to Hunter, "Did you really shove it all the way through the arm?"

Hunter nodded, "The instructions said to pack the wound…"

"Indeed it does," Steven praised. "The problem is, I have never dealt with a through and through wound packed with Quickclot. Normally, I would flush out the wound with water, removing all the bandages or granules, then let surgeons take over and do their thing." His good hand rubbed his chin as he thought it over. "I guess we'll have to do the same thing here, but instead of having a surgeon close him up, we'll have to get it out, then bandage the crap out of it and tape it so nothing gets in. I have no idea how it will heal, though."

Steven paused and glanced back over at the woman. He moved up and knelt. "Hunter, cut the clothing off her upper chest so I can take a better look."

"But she's a girl!" Hunter stated in horror.

Nikki shot Hunter a look, "Yeah, being a she, makes her female."

This got a snicker out of several of the others, but all the boys looked every bit as uncomfortable with removing the woman's clothing as Hunter did.

"Hunter," Steven scolded the boy with a very firm voice, "male or female makes no difference at this point. You are your patrol's best first aid guy, which makes you the medic. What is more important, her life or you not seeing a boob or two?"

Hunter turned bright red, but finally moved forward with his knife out.

Seeing how baldly his hands were shaking, Nikki moved forward. "I'll do it, but then it goes right back to you, cause I don't know anything more than how to put on a Band-Aid or wrap my knee with an ace bandage."

Steven ran his good hand through his hair in aggravation as the teen girl cut a slit though the flight vest then pulled it off. She then sliced down the flight suit and cut the bra strap. She backed off as the wound around the jagged piece of metal became fully exposed.

Steven leaned forward and noticed the entry had been fast and had caused little damage to the skin. In fact, there was very little in the way of dry blood around the entry point. He moved to one of the shuttered windows and opened it up just wide enough to see hailstones the size of grapefruits slamming into the Hummer. So massive were the hailstones, the bullet resistance glass was showing some spider webbing. "She needs a hospital. I can't do anything with this with my arm the way it is... Hell, I'm not sure I'd be able to do this with two good arms."

Scott, keeping his head down, spoke up, "There is a hospital in Oberlin."

"We ain't going nowhere in this storm and the more we move her, the better the chance this hunk of whatever the hell it is will wiggle around inside and cause more internal damage. I bet there's already infection and other nasty crap gong on just under the skin. There is already a red band around the point of entry, so if she doesn't have a blood infection now, she will soon."

"So what do we do?" Nikki demanded to know.

"Nothing," Steven responded after several seconds of silence.

"Mr. K," Devin whispered, "we can't just let her die…" His voice trailed off as a gust of wind smashed a few hailstones into the side of the house with enough force to send some splinters from the wood into his cheek. He quickly moved clear of the widow, but his pleading eyes stayed locked on Steven's

Hunter closed his eyes for a few seconds as he listened to everyone breathing uneasily, "What if I am your hands, Mr. K?"

Steven glanced around the room, realizing all eyes were on him. He then focused in on Hunter, "Son, this isn't some first aid stuff… it'll use up a lot of valuable medical gear and it's real a surgery, one I am not really even sure I can do."

"There is another medic kit under the battle packs or whatever they are." Angus offered. "I think we saw a couple more in the plane too."

Hunter moved up and looked at the woman as she underwent another set of convulsions. "We've got to try… Please?"

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