- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
For the past four months under the expert tutelage of his stepfather he had learned to handle a variety of firearms. Whether it was a .38 revolver, a Glock 19, shotgun or a semi-automatic AR-15 Josh had developed the skill to handle each with deadly accuracy. It had been quite a personal journey because the first time a firearm was discharged in his vicinity, he nearly bawled in fright. As his proficiency increased he grew aware of the yawning disconnect between shooting a static, inanimate object and what would be required of him to target flesh and blood. But the circumstances in which he and his family now lived made his willingness to use these newly-acquired skills mandatory.
Josh and his stepfather, Wayne Foltz, walked along the side of the road after searching for food and other supplies. So much of what passed between them now was unspoken; as if living a stripped down life demanded less verbal communication. It was through a series of near imperceptible gestures that Wayne signaled Josh to come with him. It was dangerous to be out in the open because undiluted evil was on a rampage. Wayne's invitation was all the evidence his 17-year-old stepson needed that he had earned his stepfather's confidence that he could be counted on in an emergency.
As they walked by the burned out and abandoned stores of the Capetowne Shopping Center, Josh gave a glance at what once had been the neighborhood Safeway. It was here that he had been totally mesmerized at the sight of lawyers, teachers, accountants and doctors fighting like feral dogs over basic necessities as panic over world events first took hold. By contrast, Wayne had been a model of cool reserve. Of course, the big-as-a-baseball-bat pistol he brandished assured that whatever he wanted; he obtained without argument or resistance.
Considering how society was collapsing, Josh was puzzled that no one else carried a firearm. He asked Wayne who just shrugged, "They've spent their lives believing the wrong people."
That memory caused Josh to touch the Glock secured in his waistband. He also carried a .38 caliber revolver tucked in a back pocket. Their so-called search for food had largely been unsuccessful because it obviously was not the real reason for this outing. When he asked Wayne why they were so visible his answer was, "We're hunting."
They were bait. They exposed themselves as prey to lure a mostly unseen and unknown enemy to them. They heard the throaty throb of the engine just before they saw the approaching shiny white sedan with the spinners and no visible license plates.
The sedan seemed to slow down, as if its occupants were studying them and assessing the situation. The car would have looked out of place even in normal times. But now its appearance radiated trouble.
Wayne dropped the plastic bags he carried. They didn't break their pace, they didn't stop and they fixed their attention firmly on the white sedan as they walked towards it.
By the way his hands moved under his long coat, Josh knew that Wayne was preparing his pistol grip Mossberg pump action shotgun which was confirmed when he heard the distinctive "click" of a shell being loaded into the chamber.
"Get ready," Wayne said in a near whisper. "Move fast and don't panic. Hold the weapon steady and take your time firing."
Wayne quickly crossed to the other side of the road. The car accelerated towards them. Josh moved into the nearby roadside drainage culvert, dropped to his knees and reached into his waistband.
He wondered if the occupants had a prepared plan of attack. Would they use their car for a series of drive-by attacks or stop and confront them face to face? He flattened himself on the upward slope of the culvert and took careful aim. He'd later recall how steady his hands were. From the sedan came bursts of automatic weapons fire. The shotgun erupted which Josh used as his signal to open fire. He heard and felt ammo slam into the ground around him. Using the roadside ditch as a firing position made Josh a difficult target for even a skilled shooter and these days, Wayne assured him, they were truly rare.
The air vibrated from the firefight. The sedan slowed as it closed in. The passenger door swung open and a weapons-brandishing Hispanic male emerged; nearly on top of him. Josh quickly discharged multiple rounds from his 30-round clip and the shooter was flung back into the car. The shiny white sedan languidly drifted several feet and rolled into the drainage culvert and the air went silent. Josh started to approach the now stationary vehicle but the weight of Wayne's hand on his shoulder made him stop. Wayne loaded more shells into the shotgun and with it at the ready approached the car.
As he got closer, he pumped three more rounds into the car. After a measured and cautious final approach, Wayne gave an "all clear" signal. By the tattoos that adorned their bodies, tattoos he had seen before, Josh witnessed two very dead Hispanic gang members in the front seat. But it was the body in the back seat that drew his attention. He was Middle Eastern. Wayne very calmly checked the bodies for money, cell phones and other forms of identification. From the jacket of the Middle Eastern corpse, Wayne removed a notebook and, to his surprise, an old-fashioned compass. He quickly flipped through the notebook pages then jammed it and the compass into a coat pocket. He dragged the bodies from the car and piled them into the trunk.
They got into the gangbangers' car and drove off. They would strip it of anything that might be useful and siphon most of the gas. They would take it to Sandy Point State Park and guide the car down one of the many, now unused boat ramps. It would slowly descend and then disappear into the murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay. From there it was a short walk home. During their return, they would take a circuitous route to conceal themselves from view.
"What's the deal with the Arab-looking dude?"
"It's like I suspected. New players are part of the game."
"Seems like they've figured it out and they're closing in."
Wayne nodded. "Yea ... I don't think it's a coincidence. By the way, the one gang-banger took several kill shots to the chest. Good work."
Josh smiled. It was better than winning at Madden's NFL Football.
That last directive brought hoots of derision from the teenage students but when they emerged from the building to find the roadways blocked by the police, they realized something serious was in the works.
When he and others tried using their cell phones, they either didn't work, got busy signals or voice messages saying the system was temporarily out of order. But before he could ponder either development in any depth, Wayne's Ford Excursion SUV pulled up.
Josh got in and was bombarded with a lot of hard to absorb information. There had been a nuclear attack in the Middle East. Israel attacked Iran ... or was it the other way around? Either in retaliation or as part of a preconceived plan, there were explosions and attacks in cities across the United States including Washington, DC which was only 40 miles from their community located just outside of Annapolis, Maryland. There was a rumor of biological and chemical attacks with thousands dying. Uprisings and attacks had broken out in London and Brussels. Paris was burning. Additionally the North Korean Army had crossed the 36th Parallel into South Korea. Military and communication satellites were mysteriously compromised. Communication centers had been hacked and cyber attacked. Electricity grids across the country had been rendered useless. Josh couldn't figure it out but it was obvious he was going to have to pay closer attention.
Instead of going home, Wayne drove to a nearby storage company. When he opened the galvanized steel roll-up doors of several adjoining units, Josh was startled by what he saw. Each unit was as large as a two-car garage. There were floor to ceiling stacks of bottled water and canned goods, sacks of flour, rice and powdered milk, seed packets for every type of vegetable imaginable, packs and packs of batteries and what seemed like endless rolls of toilet paper. There were racks of filled propane tanks and a portable generator. But what caught and riveted Josh's attention were the rifles, shotguns and various other types of weapons stacked in a corner. He approached them cautiously.
"They're not loaded," Wayne advised him.
"You didn't get bullets?"
Wayne's opened several foot lockers. Inside each were boxes and boxes of shells, bullets, pistols and revolvers. The overall import of everything contained in the storage units made Josh acutely aware that the rush of recent world events would soon overtake, overwhelm and perhaps destroy those not as prepared as his family would be. Because Josh knew Wayne Foltz was not a frivolous man. He was calm, precise, not given to exaggeration and hyperbole. Somehow he had managed to divine that this level of preparation and stockpiling would be the minimum requirements needed to ride out the approaching storm. Wayne reached into one foot locker for a Glock and handed it to Josh.
"This one I got for you. It's easy to handle with not too much kick, it has a decent range, it's extremely accurate plus it's got deadly stopping power."
Josh refused to take it. The thought of actually using a firearm to injure or kill another living thing made him tremble. He could blow apart alien zombies in a video game with the best of them. What Wayne suggested was too big a leap.
"I don't think I'd be much good with a gun," he quietly protested.
Wayne tossed it back into the foot locker and closed it. "I can understand how you feel but trust me.... very soon defending yourself and your mother and your sisters will not be an option."
"But ... but ... won't you be there to take care of things?"
"Josh, I can't do it alone because I'm the one they'll concentrate on killing first." Wayne paused to see if what he had said made any impression. It was obvious by Josh's expressions and body language that it was too much, too grim, too unbelievable to absorb in these frantic first moments.
"Let's load the truck and get the hell out of here. We'll get the rest later."
The fact Wayne was a decorated Vietnam War veteran and his father spoke against war in any form and for any reason only widen their philosophical gap. Phil had backed his words with action by participating in demonstrations against former president George Bush and the Iraq/ Afghanistan wars. During family events like Christmas and birthdays, Phil never missed the opportunity to excoriate Wayne for his military service, his combat experience and his overall support of the American military.
Wayne's typical reaction was to use his superior physical size to loom over his smaller tormentor and stare him down the way one would a child in the middle of a temper tantrum. Josh loved his father but always was embarrassed by his attempts to portray Wayne as a mindless goon.
In the beginning Josh often wondered why his mom, Joanna, was attracted to Wayne. They seemed like a gigantic mismatch. Joanna was a respected therapist and mental health professional while Wayne had his own carpentry business; specializing in hand-made furniture and cabinetry. It surprised Josh to learn that Wayne had a college degree in fine art and his original ambition was to be an artist, a painter specifically. He had paid his own way through college, with the financial cornerstone being a ROTC scholarship. After graduation he had been commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army and spent nearly two years in Vietnam as a platoon leader. Josh had studied in school that the United States lost the war in Vietnam. In his view, if the other soldiers were similar to his stepfather, he couldn't imagine them losing a war to anyone.
Once, while broaching the subject of his past, Josh asked him what happened to his goal of being a painter. It ended up being an exercise in futility, he was told, because the established art community had no wish to exhibit the work of a baby killer.
Phil was sitting on his front porch, as if he were expecting them. He greeted his son warmly but for Wayne he had nothing but his usual political bile.
"Looks like the Zionists have gotten us into a real cluster fuck."
"Nice to see you, too, Phil."
"Seems like you guys finally have the excuse you need to wipe out the international boogey men you've had in your sights for years."
"Well, talking to them obviously hasn't worked," Wayne stopped. There was no point to keep going on this tact. No time for shoulda, coulda, woulda. There were serious issues in the here-and-now that needed to be addressed.
"Look," Wayne continued, "things are going to get dicey real soon. Maybe you should move in with us temporarily; strength in numbers and all that."
Josh was elated by Wayne's offer. "Yea ... Dad ... c'mon.... it'll make Melanie and Katie happy to have you around more. I'd like it too."
"What about your mother? She couldn't wait to throw me out. What makes you think she'd let me back in the door?"
This dredging up of old wounds deflated Josh immediately. "Because it's the best move for you," Wayne insisted. "Your kids want you to be safe."
"From who or what? You don't seriously think we'll be invaded, do you?"
"Who knows? Besides, that's not our biggest immediate worry. It won't be long before the criminals and predators take full advantage of the situation. There's not enough cops and National Guard to protect everyone. I know we're kind of out of the way around here but they'll find us eventually. And you don't want to be out here alone and unarmed."
"I'll be fine."
"Dad!" One short word but Josh's tone was long on despair.
"I'll be fine Josh. Wayne exaggerates."
"But what if he isn't? And if he is, you can always come back."
"I have some extra weapons in the truck. Take a pistol and some ammo."
"Yea, Dad ... please!"
Phil went to the Excursion, opened one door and peered inside. He seemed amused in a drool and condescending manner.
"Impressive ... in a crazed survivalist sort of way."
Excerpted from American Jihad Rising by Michael A. Elliott Copyright © 2011 by Michael A. Elliott. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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