We pulled Spence’s body out of the culvert. We didn’t want to leave him rotting down there. Alonzo, Morse, Powers and I wrapped him in a tarp and buried him on a hill above the Mall. We left a “cross” marker made from snow skis.
It was already late afternoon and the sun was going down when we got back inside. The kids had made a barricaded campsite on the second floor of the store. They attempted to get some of the guns out of the rack but they couldn’t remove the trigger lock devices. A lot of the weapons were gone, probably taken by employees. There were plenty left that were usable. A small electric drill from the CSU made quick work of the trigger locks. The kids were apprehensive about handling the guns once they were unlocked. It’s understandable when all they’ve been told their entire life is that guns are bad or guns kill people. Marley had a way with the kids. He was able to teach them and make it fun. He initially sat them down and explained that the guns were tools. They weren’t good or bad. The people behind the gun were good or bad. The people handling the gun had intentions one way or another. I broke into the storage room behind the gun counter while Marley taught his class. I found 8 of the simplest guns around to use. Taurus Ultra-Lite revolvers in .38 Spl. They were lightweight revolvers with a moderate round in the .38 Spl. They packed 7 rounds instead of just 6. They weren’t too big for the smaller hands to handle. A few days ago I would never think of putting handguns in the hands of teenagers and younger kids. This wasn’t a couple days ago and these kids have seen a lot and were going to see a lot more before we could get clear of the city and on the way. I put together 8 sets of belts, holsters and drop-bags for the kids. Most of them would have to wear the belts like bandoleers. We found a few “Aim Shot” Laser Boresights for them to practice with instead of live ammo. We taught the older kids to use the lever guns too. There were plenty of Marlin 30-30S on the shelf. We padded the butt stock because they would have a kick for a kid. We set down strict rules for the kids. One was that the guns in no way came out of the holsters unless they were in danger of being killed. The kids with the rifles were instructed to keep them on safe until ready to use and there would be absolutely no horse play with the guns. One evening of training will not make anyone proficient but at least they will have some working knowledge of the tools at their disposal.
I grabbed my M-4, took a Remington 870 slug gun from the shelf and went back to the armorer area. I took a hacksaw to the barrel of the 870 and made it even with the magazine. I took the black carbon butt stock off and replaced it with a metal plate that ran flush with the back of the trigger assembly to hold in the guts. I removed the rear rifle sites from the shotgun and replaced it with a low profile, alloy picanninny rail. I removed the front pistol grip from the M-4 and attached the 870 to the M-4 by the rail. I topped off the 870 with buckshot. One up the chute and five in the mag. Most Special Ops guys called this set up the MasterKey. It was used for door breaching and close quarters combat in tunnels and buildings. I cut and shaped some foam rubber and glued it to the butt of the M-4. The 12 gauge buck shot was gonna make me sore. I mounted a Tactical light to the front of the M-4. If I ran out of shotgun rounds I could dump the 870 and lighten my load.
“Holy shit!” Marty Purcell yelled and scared everyone. “There’s someone out there.” I ran to Marty and yelled for everyone to find cover. Marty dropped behind a boat display. I slid in next to him. “Was it a zombie Marty?” I asked. “Only if they started carrying shotguns.” Someone was talking behind us.”Shush! I hear a vehicle.” I could hear the engine crank up and the vehicle pulling away. “Okay, let’s keep the use of lights to a minimum and stay away from the windows.” “If these guys have half a brain they just dropped off a couple observers. They’re probably in the trees or on a roof. I don’t think they’d stay on the ground level with zeds moving around.” ”We want to be out of here in the morning and there is too much stuff here to leave behind. There are a couple trailers on the south side. We can pull one with the two wheel drive CSU. I want the 4x4 to be mobile. I want Baer, with some cover, to go hot-wire the F-250 in front of the store. We can bring two trailers over with an ATV. We connect the trailers and load them with supplies and a couple ATVs. Let me know if anyone has any reservations with my plan."“Once everything is loaded and the tanks topped off we sleep in the garage and leave out before the sun comes up.” There was no opposition. “Lonzo and Mike, Behind the Archery counter is a stairwell to the roof. Leave the door open behind you. Alonzo, don’t hesitate to take out a target. If it isn’t one of us it’s a zombie or one of them. We’ll give you five minutes to set up then we’re moving. Don’t be over confident. We whooped these guys earlier. They may have smartened up a bit. They could have night vision. Go. Channel 4, radio silence.” “Kevin, Marty, Alex, Bryon and I will go for the truck. Kelly, you, the kids, Jesse, Maria and Karen spread out in the store. Watch the front and back doors. They could have got in another section of the mall and be moving this way. Be ready to open the garage doors when we come back. If you can, move two ATVs to the garage.” I gave one of the prison radios to Kelly to scan the channels. We took our TAC radios but wouldn’t use them unless things got hairy.
The lot was dark and we got to the truck with no drama. It was unlocked and Baer was under the dash in seconds. Bang! TING! A bullet ricocheted off the car to the right of the truck. It came from the Northeast. There were some buildings in that area. The truck started. Baer began backing it out toward the garage. Bang! TING! BANG! Another round bounced off the truck roof from the same area. The second shot was Marley Taking out his target. We could here metal clattering on the concrete sidewalk. We moved the truck over to the garage and brought two trailers over without another incident. We let the kids on guard as we packed the trailers. We topped off all the diesel tanks. We’d have to refill the cans once we got away from town. When we finished we moved all the bedding to the garage and pulled in our perimeter. A guard roster was set up with the kids doubling up with adults. There was no time like the present to get them contributing to their own safety.