Day of N
Steven watched as the kids pulled off their gear and started to pile into the back of a pair of old pickups. He stopped each one to check over every boy to make sure the short walk had taken nothing out of them. The last thing he wanted was to see any of them breathing hard or struggling after only a half mile hike to the pick-up point. This was really the final thing he could do for them since he knew the next several days, if not longer, would be mile upon mile of putting one foot in front of the other as they did their best to find family and loved ones.
He had done his best to get them properly set up, and he knew it, but they were just kids and he knew the temptation to take too much would doom their chances before they even started. Because of this, he had helped set up all their packs, made sure they had water, water purification pills, and enough food for three days. He also made sure all of them could easily grab at least one of their weapons. Having all their firearms buried under other gear would not help in an emergency.
Ramsey's pack was considerably lighter with only one canteen, half ammo load, less clothing, and only MRE meals per Steven's instructions. The last thing he wanted was the kid to get an asthma attack because he couldn't carry everything without stressing out his body.
Once he was sure of the basics, Steven spent a bit more time as he checked the weapons the kids carried. All of them had military survival knives. Most of the kids chose M4 assault rifles and M9A1 nine millimeter pistols taken from the military transport. Several also elected to take a non-military backup. After seeing the destruction caused by the shotgun Hunter carried, the kids had Devin quickly worked out a trade with people in Jennings, who were only too happy to hand over a spare shotgun, in exchange for an assault rifle and ammunition.
The one exception to the arsenal load was Zeki. The small boy was nervous about carrying any gun, but after getting lessons from Steven and Gage he finally agreed he was OK to carry. On the other hand, he went much lighter; electing to only carry a very old single shot .410 shotgun, one of the .22 rifles, and a .38 revolver Gage had come across while helping to empty out the transport plane.
In addition to the weapons each boy, other than Ramsey and Zeki, had at least four extra thirty-round magazines for the assault rifles and two spare fifteen-round clips for their side arms. Each also carried some extra ammunition for their chosen civilian weapons and a cleaning kit; meaning to a child well over half the weight they were going to lug around was water, weapons, and ammo.
As each boy was helped into the back of one of the two pickups, they were handed a small bundle of food by a couple of women who had come with their husbands. Even as touching as the care packages were, the pain in Steven's chest prevented a smile. As it was, he had to get both drivers' help to get himself into the back so he could sit between Hunter and Angus.
It took everything he had to not cry out as he finally took a seat, but the look on his face told everyone, Steven was not doing well. Gage actually moved up to help Steven slide down so his back was against the back windshield.
The driver of the other pickup looked over and patted Gage on the shoulder, "Don't worry son, we'll get him to the clinic as soon as we drop you all off. We got a decent doctor for a Detroit city boy…" He stopped as he noticed Gage carried both a heavy hunting rifle and an assault rifle with a grenade launcher. "Um, I think we could find you something a bit smaller to shoot, young'un. Hell, I have a couple of other shotguns and a .30-30 on my wall you could have."
Steven waved the older man off, "He's the best they got and I have verified they all know how to use everything they are packing. The only weapons I have not fully checked them out on are the shotguns Devin traded for, and most of these kids have been pheasant hunting with me, so I am confident they can handle shotguns."
The driver of the second pickup, who wore a gun on his hip and the hint of a sheriff badge which could be seen under his jacket, gave a light snort as he pushed a wad of chew under his front lip. "Damn, I didn't know boys were allowed to be boys anymore."
Angus managed a grin as he lightly patted Steven on the shoulder. "Mr. Korbal changed everything in our troop and showed us how to do all sorts of cool stuff!"
The man noted the other boys nodding in agreement and made a quick spit, "Well, we are going to take real good care of him for you kids." He stopped, pulled out a small bag of old silver dollars, and handed them over to Steven. "Give each boy a few of these. Money ain't going to mean shit for a while, but silver sure as hell will."
Hunter started to protest only to get a hard look from the man, "Boy, not a word. You saved some of our town folk, risking your lives to do so. This is the least I can do for you all."
The old sheriff then turned to look at Steven. "I'll also guarantee you all, if the world gets working again and my big city loving grandsons are still alive, I'm bringing them out here for you to work with for a summer, if not longer. I'm also going to make damned sure my local grand kids spend plenty of time with you."
Steven wondered if he would be alive to see the kids return, let alone work with other children, but did his best to hide his feelings. "Unfortunately, I'm betting American children are going to have to learn a whole new set of skills if they are going to survive the next few years. As long as I am able, I'll do what I can to teach as many as I can." Steven glanced to the east with a note of concern, "It won't be long till we get some sun and we want to be well clear of here by then. The last thing we want is to lead anyone back to all these supplies before we get them into town and set up a defensive perimeter."
The man hopped in, glanced back at his wife who was looking at the boys with a great deal of fear and let out a little snort, "Erma, something tells me these kids got more grit than most adults. They'll be fine and we'll have a place all prepared for them for when they come back."
The woman let out a long breath as the engine of the old 1955 Chevy pickup roared to life. "I'll keep everything ready to make you all some ice cream and pie, so you find your folks and hurry back."
Devin shot the lady a smile from the other, even older, pickup as it too came to life. "Thanks, that's all I have to hear to hurry back, ma'am."
Hank moved up and watched the two pickups as they disappeared into the pre-dawn morning as he moved up next to Erma. "My boy would be dead and God only knows what would have happened to my girls without those kids."
Erma put her arm around the man, "Not to mention I would have lost my son…" She paused and let out a long sigh, "I put a note in one of the meals asking them to find insulin along with testing meters and strips for your dad. The clinic has enough for a couple of months, but I have no clue what we will do once those supplies run out."
Hank gripped his mother, "I'll hit the road once Dad comes back and check all the nearby towns. The real problem is the need to refrigerate insulin."
"Unopened it has a long shelf life." The woman assured her son, "All we need to do is find enough to make it through until more starts getting made."
For Hunter's part, he stuck his fresh meal in the top of his pack and focused in on Steven's quick lesson on finding latitude and longitude. After getting an idea of how to do it, he had Steven give him and Angus the very basics of reading and understanding the topographical maps he had. Finally, and after a considerable amount of begging, Hunter managed to convince Steven to pinpoint four of the closest secret launch sites on the map while giving him the coordinates of all the others.
The trip should have only been an hour, even with the poor condition of the earthquake damaged roads, but the pair of pickups had to detour three times to find intact bridges and once to bypass a stopped coal train.
The location of the train was noted, however, since the coal in the lines of cars would be a valuable source of heating for those in and around Jennings. After nearly an hour and a half, the pair of old pickups pulled onto Highway 36, and moved straight east. All the kids noted several cars and trucks off to the side of the road and a few on the road. As they passed by each they shined a flashlight, hoping they would find one they recognized. None did.
Once they had to go down an embankment and back up to maneuver around a multiple car pileup. Even with only flashlights out, most of the kids noticed at least two of the cars had bodies still in them. Most of them had mixed emotions of being thankful they didn't know those in the cars and then feeling guilty about being happy someone else was dead.
Hunter started to move to the back of the truck as he glanced over at Steven only to see the man shake his head.
Steven paused his lesson and looked over at the three boys in the back of the truck with him. "With so many cars having computer chips, this was bound to happen. Some cars failed completely, while others had glitches. Those who didn't have problems had to suddenly deal with being on the roads with those who did. What you are seeing out here is nothing compared to what cities have to look like. Just think, even if the city wasn't directly hit, the EMPs would have knocked out traffic lights and caused many cars and trucks to malfunction. Suddenly there were cars going thirty-five miles an hour or more into converging intersections that had no lights, while other cars around them suddenly stopped working or went haywire. Making matters even worse, many had to have been distracted by the sudden bright flash of light."
Angus shivered at the thought, "And no one could call for help…"
Steven nodded back in the direction of the wreck, "Those who lived were probably hurt and some may have even been pinned. If the crash didn't kill them, exposure and lack of medical attention probably did. If they are still in vehicles at this point, then there is no reason to check on them…" He paused as he realized how cruel his words sounded to the kids. "Guys, I know this is not something you have fully grasped yet, but this is the world you are living in. Just look at me, there is no question I would have been dead by now without you guys and I was only on a bicycle."
Steven let his words soak in for a few seconds before he continued on with his map lesson, somewhat surprised to find Gage already had a working knowledge of topographic maps and must have spent some time with real world land navigation experience.
The impromptu class stopped as the pickup crested a slight hill and the glow of the brightening skyline was partially drowned out by a jet of blue flame several yards high. Seeing the boys with him gazing at it, he spoke up. "Natural gas, probably a main line break."
Hunter cocked his head to the side, "How come it is still burning?"
"Yeah," Gage joined in, "no one is around to make it, are they?"
Steven snickered lightly, "Um, guys, it's NATURAL gas. It isn't human made like gasoline. Normally it is sent through pumping stations where they add in the nasty smell so leaks can be detected. However, as long as the pipelines are still secure, there is some flow coming out of the gas fields. This one looks like it is one of the main lines and it's ruptured. There is no telling how long it will burn for… It could go for months or even years unless someone closes off a valve between the break and the source."
Gage's eyes opened wide, "You mean someone makes gas smell that way on purpose?"
"Yeah," Steven grinned. "If they didn't no one would be able to smell it and it would kill lots of people. In its pure form it's odorless. By adding in the rotten egg smell, it lets people know there is a problem before their houses fills up with gas and kills everyone or someone makes a spark and causes the whole house to explode."
"So when you made us turn off all the gas to the farmhouse," Angus asked, "it was because you knew we would not be able to smell it anymore?"
"The smell was only part of it," Steven stated seriously. "The other part was, and still is, with no one in control of the distribution network, and no idea as to the extent of the damage to the pipelines, I knew there would be wide spread problems with natural gas. A few seconds disruption could easily cause the pilot light to go out then, when the gas started flowing again, it could have killed us. Remember, we were down in a cellar. The gas could have easily poured out and once it hit one of the lit candles..."
Hunter shuddered at the thought, "Boom!"
Steven nodded, "Exactly." He let the boys think this over as they all watched the flame for over a minute. Once the trucks got closer he could see it was actually further off the road than he originally had thought. Finally, once he noticed there was a paved turn off going in the direction of the fire, he turned and tapped on the top of the truck cab. As the truck slowed Steven edged closer to the driver's side so he could talk, "Hey, what's up there?"
"Norcatur," The driver responded. "Until Hank built the station in Jennings, this is was the nearest place to get gas. Hell, we were happy to pay the extra few cents a gallon. Wish I had thought about it."
Steven managed a slight chuckle even as the pain flared across his chest again. "I hope you all shut gas off to all the houses in Jennings."
"Didn't have to, the sheriff and our volunteer fire chief went out and shut the main valve coming into town before the rest of us even thought about shutting it off to our houses. Then, while the rest of us were running to our cellars, the two of them made the rounds and made sure all of us shut off gas incase the main one failed. From what I heard the two of them even went out to several of the farms to tell people. I bet the only reason you all didn't get a visit is because no one thought anyone would be there after the accident."
"What accident?" Gage demanded to know.
"The place you holed up in was the Westerlark's farm. The whole family was all but killed a couple of months back when a trucker fell asleep behind the wheel and slammed into them. The accident killed four of the five of them and the truck driver as well. Their three-year-old son was going to be put into foster care, so the sheriff took the boy in."
Angus let out a long breath, "I heard about that..." He shivered for a moment and glanced over at Hunter, "We were eating dead people's food!"
"Glad it served a purpose," the driver spoke with some disgust in his voice. "The new bank vice president seized it all and was going to sell it, since they took out a small loan last year for some repairs around the farm. Greedy bitch was going to take it all and leave the poor three-year-old with nothing!"
Gage hung his head and muttered something unintelligible under his breath. Fortunately for all involved the man driving didn't notice while both Hunter and Angus were smart enough to keep their mouths closed, so nothing more was said.
More to get the conversation going a different direction than a desire to actually find out more about the town they were passing, Steven spoke up. "Hey, any chance they need some of the supplies we got."
The driver glanced back with a bit of a sour look, "If they want to come and live in Jennings they can, but the last thing we are going to do is hand over anything to them. A couple of years back our sheriff arrested a couple of Norcatur teens for burglary. Less than a week later, one of their deputies pulled over one of our kids for speeding and said he found drugs in the back. The girl got lucky, cause a state trooper happened to pull up and there were no drugs on site. The deputy was fired, but we have had nothing but problems from them since and their kids and ours have had more than a few fights at the high school.
"I think it was one of the reasons Hank put in the gas station, mechanic shop, and general store. Now none of our kids ever need to go up there." The man glanced back with a smirk, "Ever since, their population has gone down while ours have grown. They used to be bigger than us."
Steven rolled his eyes and sighed. The politics of small towns was something his grandparents used to complain about all the time. His grandfather even used to joke that everyone in town knew what color of toilet paper they bought. The problem was, a squabble between nearby towns could lead to an all out feud, especially since there was no longer anyone to step in between them and they both knew it.
Knowing he would need to broker some kind of peace between the two towns sooner rather than later, he shook his head sadly and pulled the map back over so he could continue to work with the boys on map reading. Still, he couldn't help but glance up the road as they drove by. It was as deserted as the highway they were on, but a large tractor partially blocked the road. Steven couldn't help but wonder if it had just died there or if someone had put it there on purpose.
Less than a mile past the turnoff to Norcatur the lead pickup stopped. Even before Steven craned his neck to see what the problem was his ears picked up the sounds of raging water. A couple seconds later the sheriff came into view, "There used to be a small dike to the north of the road to hold water for cattle. It's gone and when it went the water buckled the bridge. As it is, the water is overflowing the banks of the stream and is starting to wash out sections of the road. I think I can make it, but think I ought to give it a shot without the kids in the back."
Hunter glanced at the weathered face with a great deal of concern, "How close are we to Prairie Dog?"
"Less than ten miles," the driver of the pickup they were in responded.
Hunter reached for his pack, "Then we'll find a way around on foot…"
The sheriff cut him off and grabbed the pack, "No you won't; it's quite a bit further to the camp grounds and there are a couple even bigger streams between here and there. We'll get you to the edge of the park." The man then glanced back in the direction of Norcatur, "Besides, this ain't a good neighborhood."
Steven reached out and grabbed Hunter's jacket to get the boy to sit back down. "Are there any back roads around this break?"
The sheriff's face scrunched up in thought for a few seconds. "We can try the rail line just to the north. Those railroad bridges are built to handle more than these highway ones, but it'll be bumpy. We'll also have to pass just this side of Norcatur, so keep you guns handy."
It took everything Steven could muster not to say what he was thinking. Instead, he bit his lower lip and nodded to the three boys in the back with him.
Gage didn't hesitate to break out his M4, while Hunter pulled out his 12 gauge and Angus pulled his pistol. The old sheriff eyed the three boys with a glint of humor in his eyes, "You know, this looks totally backwards, right?"
This got a genuine smile out of Steven as he looked over and realized the smallest kid had the biggest weapon and the biggest had a pistol in his hand. "As odd as it may look, they all went to their strengths."
"So be it," the sheriff shrugged. "Kids, get in the back of my truck, there ain't no way your scout master is going to be able to handle a ride along railroad tracks."
The man then moved over to the window of the pickup, "Go back and get your passenger to the clinic. If I'm not back by noon you can send someone to look for me, even though I don't recommend it. I plan on jumping on the tracks and wrapping all the way around to the edge of the park. The tracks are built up, so as long as there are no trains I should be able to make it all the way around to Highway 383. If you all feel the need to look for me, take 383 to the edge of the park and jump on the tracks heading north from there."
Steven started to argue only to get a very stern look from the sheriff. "These seven boys need you to be there for them when they get back, so no lip." The sheriff managed a hard grin, "Besides, Army Ranger or no, in your condition I can still take you and all I have to do is get handcuffs on you."
This got a genuine laugh out of Steven which caused him to grab his ribs again. Fighting off the latest wave of pain, he turned to look at the three in the back of the truck with him. "Boys, do your searching and head back to Jennings. You can always resupply and head back out if needed."
A bit of confusion rippled across Hunter's face, but Gage quickly covered for him, "We'll be fine, Mr. K. See you soon."
Steven handed Hunter the bag of silver dollars. "The sheriff is right. Cash is meaningless, but silver isn't. Don't use them unless you need them, but there are thirty-five of them in here, so give five to each of the others and let them know, this is about the only thing that will work as far as money, and none of us have a clue what they will be worth. If you find someplace that will take it and want to try to buy something, try to get a feel for what things are going for first. Adults will see kids and will try to take advantage of you all, no matter how well-armed you all are."
Hunter nodded his understanding and took a deep breath, "I'll try to get it all back to him."
"Those are yours, son," the sheriff stated firmly. "You saved four of us because you wanted to do the right thing. This is my way of saying thank you."
Angus cut off any argument from Hunter by grabbing the bag. "Thanks, Sherriff. We'll make sure we don't waste them."
As soon as the sheriff walked back to his truck and told the other four to make room, Gage jumped off the back of the pickup and grabbed his gear. As they moved to the other truck, he elbowed Hunter, "Dude, there is no way the old man would let us do this if he knew we didn't plan to come right back. Besides, someone wants us to try to find some insulin and bring it back with us." Gage passed over the note he had tucked into his pack.
Angus let out a long breath, "Tamera said her grandfather was diabetic."
"Crap," Hunter muttered. "OK, we'll keep our eyes open for this Humulin and if we find some we'll head back and drop it off. We need to search the roads between the park and home anyway." Hunter looked over the note again and added, "This sure wasn't written by a kid. It's way too neat."
"Probably the old lady who gave it to me," Gage stated softly. "She nodded at the bag like four times to make sure I knew to look at more than the food, then pointed at the sheriff and put a finger to her lips."
"Which means the sheriff may be Tamera's grandfather since the woman who handed us the food was his wife." Angus noted with a bemused shake of his head.
"Man, sometime small town life sucks," Gage responded with annoyance. "Everyone seems to know everybody."
"We do," Hunter frowned. "Why does it bother you?"
"Because," Gage sighed, "I don't like everyone knowing who I am and what I do all the time. My mom even already knew my grades before I handed her my report card and had the talk about reading coming out of her mouth before she even threw her keys on the table!
"Then, when I went to stay at Ram's house, both his mom and dad wanted to know if there were any books I might be interested in so they could buy them for me. I even got hit with it at scouts. The first thing out of Mr. K's mouth when I showed up for the bike trip was asking me if there was something he could do to help me with reading. I just couldn't get away from one stupid D.
"The same thing happened when I wrecked my dirt bike over spring break. I didn't even know anyone saw me wipe out and go into the ditch, but a couple of kids from school came over with their parents to check on me, and Mom came home early and said I needed to go see a doctor just because my knee and elbow were all skinned up. Then, when I got there, the lady behind the desk already knew my name! This small town crap is horrible. I can't even forget my lunch money without someone making me look stupid and paying for me and I end up having to bring the money to someone the next day. Everyone knows everything. It was way better back in St. Louis, I didn't even know the names of the people on my street and they didn't know mine."
The sheriff heard the comment and snorted, "Which also means your neighbors didn't give a hoot about you, your home, or anything else about you. 'Round here, people care about each other and help out. Hopefully all this will sort itself out, the world will get back on its feet and you'll get a chance to see the upside to small town life."
Gage said nothing, deciding it was not a great idea to argue with the guy who was driving them. Besides, after what his dad dealt with and had taught him, he had little to no trust in law enforcement. Each time the edge of the badge poked out from around the man's jacket, it brought back some of the feelings associated with cops, mostly fear.
To the sheriff's credit he noticed the way the boy standing in front of him clammed up. "Son, I'm not sure what's going on in that head of yours, and I can see you ain't 'bout to trust me any time soon. However, before you get totally down on us country folk, I just want you to think about something. Can you at least listen for a few seconds?"
Gage's lips stayed pressed tightly together, but he managed a nod.
The sheriff took a step back to give Gage a bit more personal space before he started talking. "I grew up in Jennings, but decided it was just too boring." He paused as he noticed this got a very slight grin out of Gage, which told him he was getting through. "I wanted to see the world, and while others were avoiding the draft, I signed up for the army and before I was nineteen I was in Vietnam."
The man let out a long breath, "Those three tours taught me there are basically three types of folks in this world. There are the decent; they are the ones who care about others and will try to do what they can to help. You seven all fit into this, otherwise you would have never risked your lives to save people you didn't know. There are a bunch of your type out there. Unfortunately, under normal circumstances, you all are the ones who have to hold the line against the second of my classification of people.
"Those are the indecent. They are more like animals than people. They are the ones who are only out for themselves. The indecent are crafty and strive to get into positions of authority because being in charge makes them feel big. As much as I hate to admit it, this means many of these bad folk tend to gravitate to jobs like police, military, and above all else politics; which is why there are problems in all of those jobs. As an example, the indecent are the ones who will steal your wallet while they pat you on the back."
Devin clearly looked hurt and hung his head.
The sheriff paused, cocked his head to the side, snickered, moved up to the mop of black hair, and ruffled it, "Let me guess, you want to be in the military?"
"No!" Ram, Hunter and Angus all spoke at the same time. Before the sheriff could so much as look at the three, Angus chuckled, "Sorry, Sheriff, but he put his name in the hat for student council the first day of school and came up with several campaign slogans before the others who were interested even thought about what to talk about."
This got a good hardy laugh out of the aging sheriff. It didn't help the situation at all when Devin kicked the dirt while glaring at his friends. The man had to grab the side of his pickup as he forced himself to stop laughing at the look in the big blue eyes staring at him with tears threatening to come out. "Son, there are just as many decent people who go into politics as indecent!"
"Like who?" Vernon demanded to know. "Dad says there isn't a good honest guy left in Washington."
The sheriff shrugged, "Not many. The whole way the system works tends to corrupt, but if there weren't some good folks who go there and fight the good fight, this wouldn't have become the greatest country in the world. After this, we are going to need a new breed of good young men to come up through the ranks and rebuild. You very well could be one of those. For, just like the indecent are drawn to power, the decent are drawn by the desire to help others. This means both strive for the same kinds of jobs for totally opposite reasons.
"Police are another great example. Some become cops because they want the thrill, like the fact the badge," he tapped the star under his jacket, "gives them power over others. Others, and I like to consider myself among them, see the job of law enforcement an honor and a way to touch a huge amount of people in a positive way."
Vernon scowled in deep confusion, "So how do we know who is good and who is bad?"
"There is the big problem. Sometime the indecent ones are obvious, but they don't last long. The smart ones are crafty, and pretend to be good, while behind the scenes they are as evil as they come. As with anyone, in any position of authority, you just have to be careful and watch your backs and the backs of others when around them until they earn your trust. Even then, don't let the fact they have been nice allow you to turn a blind eye when they do something wrong. The worst of the worst are expert at manipulation."
The man closed the tailgate and made sure it was secure, "But, before you get me totally off track, what I really wanted to talk to you 'bout is the third group in my classification of people."
"People are either good or bad, right?" Ramsey asked softly as he tried to figure out what other type of people there could be.
"Basically, yes. People are either good or bad, decent or indecent." The sheriff held up his hand to prevent any more questions. "The problem is most people never really know what they are. Some will do some minor good and some trivial bad. Take a wallet lying in the middle of the street. Some who find it will dig through it, find the owner, and return it intact. Others will take it, use the ID and credit cards, and ruin a person for days, weeks, months or even longer. However, most people who find such a wallet with cash and credit cards will take the cash and leave the credit cards. Many will even drop the wallet, minus the cash, into the nearest mail box, never really giving the fact he just stole cash much thought."
"This is the third group. They are in the vast majority. I call them the average joes. These average joes care about those close to them and do their own thing. They don't really care what happens to others as long as it doesn't affect them. They will reach into their wallets once in a while to help out the needy, or to donate after a big disaster just to feel good about themselves.
"Under normal circumstances they would never think of using the credit cards in the found wallet, but the cash is a grey area. There is no proof of wrongdoing, so taking it does not endanger them. Many will feel some guilt, but the lure of free money overrides it. The average joes are everywhere and are basically happy to go through life without being noticed. They will, if push comes to shove, become a football coach for their kid's team or a scout master, but they aren't very good at it and won't put the effort into becoming good at it. In simple terms they really don't care all that much about others, but don't want to look like jerks. So, they do some stuff to keep the world running as smoothly as they can without burdening their lifestyles.
"As a cop in Dallas I saw it all the time. People would see a crime or hear someone calling out for help and did nothing. Most wouldn't even call the cops because they didn't want to be inconvenienced. We would bring in people to look at a line up and you could see them stare right at the guy we wanted to arrest, then turn and say they didn't recognize anyone, or say something like 'it could be the guy on the left', but would never commit to getting fully involved."
The sheriff paused as he realized all the boys were giving him their undivided attention. Impressed, he gave them all a reassuring smile then continued. "The problem with the average joe is his life only works as long as there is a world he can work in and be part of. Right now, the average joe is totally out of his element. His money means nothing. He can't go to a store and buy a loaf of bread, and chances are he only had enough food in his house for three or four days. He has no clue how to cook without electricity. He is freaking out because when he pulls on the handle of his sink nothing comes out, and by now his kids and wife are screaming for food and might be getting sick. This will make the average joe desperate.
"As I told you, I was a cop in Dallas before I came back here, and trust me when I say whatever bad stuff is going on out here after this, is nothing compared to what is happening in major cities. With no law, and no one helping each other, it must be a free for all in any major urban center not destroyed by bombs. By now foodstuffs will be gone, fresh water will be non-existent, and the average joe is doing what he can to survive by whatever means he can think of. This doesn't mean he is a bad guy, but at the moment he is quite capable of beating your head in with the nine iron in his golf bag if he thinks it will get his own kid an extra day or two of food.
"We are now in the most dangerous time, and it will last about six months to a year. By then some kind of law and order will be reestablished. In some places it will be because the indecent took over and in other places it will be because people like you, the decent, will have gained control. The average joes who survive will figure out a way to exist under whoever is in charge and will adapt to the new world they find themselves in. The thing you all have to understand is this. Until some system of law returns, these average joes are out of their element and pose a danger to you all. As you look for your loved ones, the thing you need to understand is the harder you push, even for information, the harder others are going to push back."