Tag Archives: Prepper

I’M OVER IT! 3 Points on The Virus

This topic is quintessential to preparedness for all doomsday preppers, homesteaders, survivalists, militia, minuteman, city prepping, rural prepper, urban prepper, normal people, or looking to prepare for SHTF WROL TEOTWAWKI or natural disaster. Whether your own personal SHTF is the 2020 elections, economic collapse, civil unrest, martial law, food crisis, civil war, food shortage, EMP or CME, black swan event, or whatever, a prepper needs to be prepared for this topic. ***

Supply Chain Domino’s Are Falling – COVID-19 – Get Preps!

This…

Has lead to this… 

Supply chain issues continue to extend beyond automotive and tech; now it’s starting to affect household product supply chains. According to Forbes (Link) the American giant Procter and Gamble (2019 revenue: 67.68bn USD) says that it too now has significant problems. “We access 387 suppliers in China that ship to us globally more than 9,000 different materials, impacting approximately 17,600 different finished product items,” Jon Moeller, Procter & Gamble’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, said Thursday at a conference in New York. “Each of these suppliers faces their own challenges in resuming operations.” The article adds that this will affect P&G’s profits in the China retail market.

www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2020/02/20/chinas-coronavirus-outbreak-threatens-to-send-global-supply-chain-into-a-tailspin-pg-alone-has-17600-items-that-could-be-affected/#55888483156f

Bloomberg – another automotive runs into problems; Nissan is warning of disruptions in plants as far as the US due to the virus epidemic leading to parts shortages. They procure more than 800 parts from factories in Hubei and are concerned that many of these pats will run out (including such things as brake hoses and air conditioning controllers) if the plants do not come back online by today (the date the government indicated most production could resume). This could lead some Nissan output in Japan to be suspended as early as Jan 23rd with Malaysia following not longer after. Plants in the US, UK, India, Mexico, Russia and Spain may also have to stop production. A survey of their suppliers found only 58% said they’d be able to resume by Feb 10th with many others saying they couldn’t because they couldn’t get necessary government approval. Of those that have gone back online, only half of them could get the majority of their workforce working. (Link)
www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2020-02-19/virus-havoc-could-shut-down-a-nissan-factory-half-a-world-away

Reuters – major automotive parts manufacturer Valeo (19.48bn EUR revenue in 2019) says that most of its Chinese factories are now back online but not at full operational capacity. It expects production to fall by 2% this year and adds that that it is too early to evaluate the impact of the virus on the company’s 2020 results and the wider auto industry. (Link)
mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN20E2KC

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that Asia-Pacific airlines could lose $27.8 bn to coronavirus according to Philstar (Link). The estimate is based on projections of a 13-percent full-year decline in passenger demand, mostly in China. IATA’s CEO says that this will be the first time since the 2008-2009 financial crisis that demand for air travel has declined and that stopping the virus is a top priority. Airlines in China’s domestic market alone are estimated to lose around $12.8 billion in revenues, reversing an expected 4.8% growth into a 8.2% contraction.
www.philstar.com/business/2020/02/21/1994974/asia-pacific-airlines-could-lose-278-bn-coronavirus-iata

Food prices – China produces 80-90% of the worlds garlic supply (depending on which article you read) and the price of it is rising sharply. Prices in the US are up 29% from last year whilst wholesale prices are up even more to 60% higher than this time last year. The reason is difficulties in transportation and a shortage of labour as most people are yet to return to work (either because they’re unwilling or they’re physically unable). (Link).
www.livemint.com/market/commodities/here-s-something-that-you-will-think-stinks-super-high-garlic-prices-11582267581189.html

Amazon is beginning to worry about Prime day in July – the Seattle Times reports (link). Third party merchants account for about 60% of its sales and it has reached out to these merchants to understand how they might be impacted. Over the past few weeks, Amazon has responded to the crisis by making larger and more frequent orders of Chinese-made products that had already been shipped to the United States, according to company emails and consultants who work with major brands. Some of its suppliers have cut back on advertising and promotions on the site so they don’t run out of products too quickly. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are working with suppliers to secure additional inventory to ensure we maintain our selection for customers,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. The company later added, “We are monitoring developments related to the coronavirus and taking appropriate steps as needed.” Amazon’s algorithms have now asked for six to eight weeks of supply on products made in China instead of just two or three weeks.
www.seattletimes.com/business/when-you-click-buy-on-amazon-it-may-be-sweating-the-supply/

The Taiwanese commonwealth magazine has a thoroughly interesting read on whether Taiwanese companies can cope with the Coronavirus (link). It focuses on The Formosa Plastics Group (revenue: 67.2bn USD) first which has forecast that the coronavirus scare will hit it far harder than did the SARS crisis in 2003, with first quarter revenues, which were originally expected to take a turn for the better, likely to slump from the previous quarter. If China shuts down for an extended period of time and inventories build up, “under the worst case scenario, the crack spread [the difference in price between a refined product and crude oil] would fall below US$2, and we would cut production, which would mean we were producing below cost,” Formosa Petrochemical Corp. President Tsao Minh explained. Other industries are examined; automotive has significant issues which we all now know, but steel should be OK from a supply perspective because raw material comes from Australia, Brazil or Canada. The article finishes by explaining that the worst may yet be to come for the entertainment and tourism industries.
english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=2656

Getting workers physically back to work – the SCMP (South China Morning Post) reports (link) that provincial governments in China’s east coast manufacturing hubs are chartering buses, planes and trains to get workers back into their factories to get things moving again; passenger traffic on public transport is only 1/5th of what it was this time last year. Couples returning to work at open factories are eligible for a one-off subsidy of 500 yuan (US$71), while a company that hires more staff than in the same period a year earlier can also receive subsidies up to 300,000 yuan (US$42,800) whilst the city of Yiwu is refunding bus and train tickets for workers who return if they arrive before tomorrow.

Economic woes spread to companies who don’t have supply chains: the Epoch Times has an article (link) waring that many small to medium sized enterprises don’t have large cash reserves and may struggle if the situation continues for a sustained period. Just 34 percent of nearly 1,000 small and medium-sized firms said they could survive for a month on current cashflow, a recent survey by Tsinghua University and Peking University showed. A third said they could last for two months, while 18 percent said they could stick it out for three months. One analyst estimates that total job losses in China could be as high as 4.5 million.
www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3051445/coronavirus-chinas-east-coast-provinces-offer-chartered

Apple’s Foxconn and Pegatron factories might be open, but don’t assume they’re fully staffed says MPR News (link). “One production line used to have 4,000 people. Now there are about a dozen remaining. My own production line usually has 1,000 workers, with about 60 now remaining,” says a female hanjia worker at Foxconn. (Hanjia means winter break, i.e. people who continue working through the spring holiday that most Chinese take off). Smaller manufacturers are having a harder time. A rare earths magnet maker that normally employs about 300 people in the city of Hangzhou, south of Kunshan, received permission to reopen from local authorities last week. The factory was able to begin manufacturing again with a skeleton crew after buying a large disinfectant machine. Rare earth magnets are used in everything from electronics to motors. For any factory to reopen now, “There’s paperwork that has to be submitted to the local government, and that includes guaranteeing masks, some other protective gear that employees can wear, a disinfecting schedule,” says manager Jen Ambrose, one of the few Americans who works at the magnet company.
www.mprnews.org/story/2020/02/19/npr-the-wide-ranging-ways-in-which-the-coronavirus-is-hurting-global-business

A white paper has arrived! Dun and Bradstreet have done a great report on the economic impact of the coronavirus. If you’re into economics, this is definitely worth a 15 minute read. Some takeaways: 90% of all active business in China are affected. At least 51,000 companies around the world have one or more direct tier 1 suppliers and at least 5 million have at least one or more tier 2 suppliers. Alternative countries for suppliers: Electrical machinery and parts could come from Brazil, the nuclear industry could tap Chile or Singapore, Furniture, plastics, toys and games could be covered by Mexico and Brazil, Motor vehicle parts as well as optical and surgical products could be covered by Chile, Colombia or India. Growth is certainly going to drop below previous forecasts but how much by depends on how fast the virus is contained.
www.dnb.com/perspectives/supply-chain/wuhan-coronavirus-business-impact.html?SERV=UPPCPOHP323237

If coronavirus isn’t brought to heel, economic bedlam awaits..

www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/02/22/coronavirus-isnt-brought-heel-economic-bedlam-awaits/

Covid-19 interrupting supply chains from watches to lobsters

www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2020/02/22/oh-dear-covid-19-interrupting-supply-chains-from-watches-to-lobsters

Gloomy data, virus weigh on Wall St
‘UNKNOWN SITUATION’:There is a break in the supply chain as well as in the demand for products, which presents a challenge to global growth, an advisory firm manager said

www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2020/02/23/2003731446

JCB to cut UK production as coronavirus hits supply chain

The private company will reduce the working hours of about 4,000 employees from Monday from 39 to 34 hours a week.Workers will be paid for a 39 hour week and bank the hours, working them back later in the year. Overtime will also be suspended, the group said on Thursday.

www.ft.com/content/ef3b2caa-4e73-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5

Southeast Asia’s garment supply chain torn up by virus

asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Southeast-Asia-s-garment-supply-chain-torn-up-by-virus

YA THINK? Maybe Global Supply Chains Were A Bad Idea: The coronavirus outbreak exposes the peril of far-flung parts networks and the risk of paralysis.

www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-02-21/coronavirus-forces-a-rethinking-of-supply-chains

… and then there’s this …

This economy is dead. The corpse only appears alive because of all the parasites living off what remains, and each other.

Get ready…

Source: Investment Watch

Food Is A Weapon

(Ol’ Remus) As in all war, food would be weaponized in a Civil War II. We don’t have to go back to antiquity for examples, more recent events provide a long list, some of which are:

United States

 Sherman’s “scorched earth” campaign began on November 15th [1864] when he cut the last telegraph wire that linked him to his superiors in the North. He left Atlanta in flames and pointed his army south. No word would be heard from him for the next five weeks. Unbeknownst to his enemy, Sherman’s objective was the port of Savannah. His army of 65,000 cut a broad swath as it lumbered towards its destination. Plantations were burned, crops destroyed and stores of food pillaged.

Germany

 The War Orders given by the Admiralty on 26 August 1914 were clear enough. All food consigned to Germany through neutral ports was to be captured and all food consigned to Rotterdam was to be presumed consigned to Germany. The British were determined on the starvation policy, whether or not it was lawful.

 The average daily diet of 1,000 calories was insufficient to maintain a good standard of health, resulting by 1917 in widespread disorders caused by malnutrition such as scurvy, tuberculosis, and dysentery. In December 1918, the National Health Office in Berlin calculated that 763,000 persons had died as a result of the blockade by that time.

Ukraine

 By the fall of 1932 it became apparent that Ukraine’s grain harvest was going to miss Soviet planners’ target by 60 percent. Stalin then ordered what little they had be confiscated as punishment for not meeting quotas. The Ukrainian famine by one estimate claimed the lives of 3.9 million people, about 13 percent of the population. In June of 1933, at the height of the Holodomor, 28,000 men, women and children in Ukraine were dying of starvation each day.

Great Britain

 Britain imported 70% of its food; this required 20 million tons of shipping a year. Knowing this would lead the Axis powers into hoping to starve the British population into submission, by cutting off those food supply lines. By the end of 1940, 728,000 tons of food making its way to Britain had been lost, sunk by German submarine activity.

Netherlands

 In September 1944, trains in the Netherlands ground to a halt. Dutch railway workers were hoping that a strike could stop the transport of Nazi troops, helping the advancing Allied forces. But the Allied campaign failed, and the Nazis punished the Netherlands by blocking food supplies, plunging much of the country into famine. By the time the Netherlands was liberated in May 1945, more than 20,000 people had died of starvation.

Japan

 The problem was not just harvests and the cutting off imports, transportation problems developed. Fuel shortages made it increasingly difficult getting food from the countryside into the cities. Food Shortages had begun to appear in some parts of the country even before Pearl Harbor.  By 1944 theft of produce still in the fields led police to speak of a new class of “vegetable thieves” and the new crime of “field vandalizing”. The average calorie intake per person had by late 1945 declined to far less than deemed necessary even for an individual engaged in light work.

Berlin

Stalin’s blockade of Berlin from June 1948 through May 1949 was an attempt to starve West Berlin’s two million inhabitants into accepting Soviet rule. The city quickly devolved into near-famine. A largely American airlift rescued it and kept it alive.

The US has historically used food as part of carrot-and-stick diplomacy, or said differently, bribes. During the Second World War, Great Britain and the Soviet Union relied crucially on American food, assuring a measure of their dependency in power negotiations. Germany, and particularly Japan, were nearly US territories after the war, both would have starved without prompt delivery of American food in quantity.

Wars are generally about food. Ancient Rome imported its food and fought epic wars to develop new sources and keep the ones it had. Medieval fiefdoms were agricultural enterprises, raiding their neighbors was common. The westward expansion of America in the nineteenth century was about food and the means to move it, as was Japan’s expanding empire in the early twentieth century. Germany explicitly cited food production to justify its aggression in the east. Their rants about fighting Bolshevism was pep rally stuff, Nazism itself was excessively patriotic Marxism.

History and cold calculation suggest food would be a weapon in a Civil War II, one of many, but of prime importance long term. Civil wars have long gestations, go kinetic suddenly and get complicated in a hurry. We have no firm knowledge what would set it off, who would be actively involved or how it would end. But the outlines are repeated well enough to guide our preparations.

The ruling class already treats middle America as this century’s Untermensch. Nothing is off the table in a civil war. Seizing the nation’s food would be an obvious move. Expect them to deploy troops to secure big ag and the necessary transportation facilities, destroy anyone who got in their way and terrorize potential troublemakers. But there’s a limit to even the deep state’s resources. Prudent survivalists in the far hills wouldn’t warrant their attention, they’d be more likely to trade shots with desperados than find themselves in a firefight with regular forces.

Food is the indispensable survival prep. At minimum this means a secure long-term stash of high calorie food sufficient to outlast the initial violence and privation without relying on resupply. Call it a year, maybe two.

Preppers are kidding themselves about large, elaborate enclaves. Such communities with their gardens, livestock, solar powered utilities, weapons, comms, storehouses, workshops, tools and supplies would be fatally attractive. Training with light infantry tactics and weapons is understandable, but repelling serial attacks by gangs and other armed opportunists would include attrition, i.e., the worker bees would win battles but eventually too few would remain to run the place. And when it became unviable, so would they.

Such redoubts have their place when the meltdown eases, but in the initial phases, less is more.

Well placed and practiced survivalists could get by on a onesey-twosey basis. Two may survive where one wouldn’t. Three or four may be better, assuming an adequate reserve of food and supplies. With more than four the liabilities are likely to outweigh the advantages. It assumes the deepest of deep larders, extensive supplies and harmonious wisdom in all things. Unless each make an irreplaceable contribution of critical value it’s probably too big a footprint for this phase. Loosely allying with similar small groups for mutual benefit may be the better choice. Five or more is a crowd, a danger to itself.

Famine is a given in contemporary civil war. Those embedded in interior cities have no chance, so, next item. The ruling class would continue to work against middle America’s existence. As said above, they’d confiscate local stores of food on a continuing basis, seize major food producing areas intact and grab the needed transportation facilities. Make no mistake, their hirelings would be granted license for absolute ruthlessness. Free fire zones and minefields are not off the table. Skilled labor, if otherwise unwilling, would be arrested and compelled to work.

Feeding their base would guarantee the loyalty of supporters, inflict mass death on the deplorables by ‘no cost’ neglect and keep armed confrontation largely confined to flyover country. But note, as said here before, this is a precarious solution. The coastal megacities are fed from the outside by vulnerable arteries passing through what would be hostile territory. In the end, feeding them would stutter and fail. Even now they’re cauldrons of seething hatred, barely repressed, often organized. With real scarcity and hardship they’d fall on each other and tear the place apart.

Privation, disease, hunger, murderous chaos and high intensity combat would likely peak in the second year. This is the knothole which would separate the survivalists from dabblers and hopeful idealists. In the years that follow, when the maelstrom had largely exhausted itself and the situation clarified, those who made good use of their resources could be largely self supporting, coalescing into tribes, forming families with neighbors and partying like it was 1319.

Be a survivor. The who and what of a civil war would matter only occasionally. Food would matter every hour of every week. Stack food high, wide and deep where it’s secure from looters and confiscation. Backup your stash with an “iron rations” fallback stash. Stack seeds, garden tools, fishing and hunting gear to be prepared for self-resupply opportunities. Calories are life.

Source: Woodpile Report

Trump Issues National Preparedness Advisory

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 — The White House issued the following proclamation on National Preparedness Month:

National Preparedness Month is a time to focus our attention on the importance of preparing our families, homes, businesses, and communities for disasters that threaten our lives, property, and homeland. During this time, we also honor the brave men and women who selflessly respond to crises and disasters, rendering aid to those in need. These first responders, who work tirelessly to safeguard our Nation and protect our citizens, deserve our utmost gratitude and appreciation.

Over the past year, communities nationwide and across the Territories have witnessed and endured damage from multiple hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters. The historic hurricane season of 2017 included three catastrophic storms that made landfall within a month, and was followed by a destructive series of wildfires in California. Combined, these natural disasters affected 47 million people and tens of thousands were mobilized to provide aid, comfort, and assistance. We are also especially mindful of those currently affected by ongoing wildfires in California, Oregon, and Colorado. In spite of tremendous challenges, the resilience of the American people continues to prevail.

Tragedies are somber reminders that preparedness is a shared responsibility and that it is critical to maintain readiness. All Americans can prepare for potential disasters by developing and practicing a family emergency response plan, assembling a disaster supply kit, signing up for alerts on mobile devices, setting aside emergency savings, and maintaining adequate insurance policies for their homes and businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Campaign outlines other important steps to best prepare for a major disaster.

This month, I encourage all Americans to take the opportunity to ensure they have an emergency response plan in place and ready to be properly executed. Emergencies and disasters test the resilience and strength of families, communities, and our Nation. It is impossible to avoid every challenge and threat, but we can and must prepare for them. By doing so, we can help protect our communities and save lives.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2018 as National Preparedness Month. I encourage all Americans, including Federal, State, and local officials, to take action to be prepared for disaster or emergency by making and practicing their emergency response plans. Each step we take to become better prepared makes a real difference in how our families and communities will respond and persevere when faced with the unexpected.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Source: Insurance News Net

Apocalypse Mindset: Don’t Let It Get You Killed

http://i2.wp.com/www.activistpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/BrexitTexit-1151x640.jpg?resize=584%2C325

Publisher’s Note: It appears BREXIT is reality and all the usual suspects are bleating and mewling that the sky is falling because a political subsidiary of a larger psychopath collective has dared to divorce it self from the theft and oversight of the fetid EU. Good for them, now we can consider DisCoXit (District of Columbia Exit).

 A Yale law professor acknowledges in a mainstream left-liberal publication laws no matter how banal must be wiling to kill to enforce. Hence the police state that is Amerika today. Folks who frequented this site have arrive t that obvious conclusion years ago.

 Read the preface for a great introduction to James Scott’s work and Irish Democracy. He is nowhere near being a libertarian abolitionist but he asks poignant questions despite deviating wildly from the moral certitude of his inevitable conclusions.

 From his tepid and rather confused “Two Cheers for Anarchism”:

 “Quiet, anonymous, and often complicitous, lawbreaking and disobedience may well be the historically preferred mode of political action for peasant and subaltern classes, for whom open defiance is too dangerous….One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy”—the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people—than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.”

 We need more Irish Democracy in America. It took the denizens of Eire over 800 years to trade their foreign socialist shackles from England for domestic collectivist manacles they wrested upon themselves. Maybe America can take less time than that to sunder the tentacled embrace from Mordor on the Potomac.

John is a long-time personal friend and benefactor of the ZG underground. This post deserves long reflection and should help triage priorities for the coming Endarkenment. -BB

http://i1.wp.com/s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/da/01/8b/da018b624855a5a8564dbf93378bedcf.jpg?resize=584%2C386&ssl=1

Scenario games and “what if’s” dominate conversations in the preparedness culture.

Working through various situations in our heads makes perfect sense. It helps develop a key tool: Mindset.

What these Kim’s games generally lack is context. These conversations assume everyone in the discussion has the same conception of what the event will be, or the even broader question of what exactly SHTF means. It’s all subjective and situational dependent. There is no answer to “what if…?” The context must be defined.

A mundane question such as ‘what is the best combat load out?’ will morph into a three hour back and forth about this or that rifle, which plate carrier is more Gucci and what type of underwear is the most efficient at wicking ball sweat. The whole time I sit back listening and thinking: “Well what is the mission? What is the event? Who, What Where, When, Why?” Essentially going over the civilian version of METT-TC in my head. It is never lined out. One person is envisioning the proverbial horde of mutant cannibalistic biker gangs ravaging the countryside, ala One Second After. Another’s context of the event is a full on invasion of CONUS by Daesh or the Haqqani Network. And another is thinking “Jeez, I thought SHTF was when I lost my job last week.” Context is critical. But one thing is true about nearly all these conversations. It tends to always focus on the absolute worst scenario imaginable, despite minor variations in each persons head.

What this community needs is an accurate threat analysis. Threats need to be defined and essentially listed out from the most likely to the least likely to occur. One is more likely to encounter a profit crime on the street, before ISIS shows up in your bedroom. You are going to encounter a home invasion or an active shooter before an insurgency against the US state or Mad Max II.

After running this through my brain for a couple years, I concluded that an apocalypse-only focus may get you killed in the streets. With this in mind I am no longer focusing on the most cataclysmic and unlikely event as my training priority.

After attending a number of classes over the years, I found that it was not uncommon at all to see half or more students, upon finishing the class, pack up their gear, lock up their rifle, separate the ammo then drive home without a CCW on their person. During class they had chest rigs for days, but not even a J frame to stick in their pocket when they return to normal life. The class made them better off to fight the Zombies invading their neighborhood, (if they had plenty of advance notice to prepare of course, to strap on their war kit and get in the proper fighting stance) but they were completely unprepared to defend themselves from a normal street criminal, the much more likely scenario.

Their mind was in “One Second After” scenario mode. They were ready to go SBU prone with their fire team, but lacked ECQC skills and tools to combat the all more likely scenario of the Stop and Rob they bought that Gatorade from being violently robbed. A robbery that was committed not by an ISIL operative yelling ALLAH SNACKBAR! But by a normal looking middle-aged white guy, who decided to initiate the robbery by smashing a wine bottle from the rack over their disarmed and situational awareness deprived head.

I got news for you. The Shit has JUST Hit The Fan the moment that wine bottle busted over the guys head. (So much for that “Truck Gun”)

These people lack the mindset needed in the day-to-day world, because they are constantly focusing solely on the threat found in the latest 37-volume prepper fiction novel. The Event to them is not the home invasion tomorrow in the present day “Rule of Law” world; it is only the invading Chinese in “Without Rule of Law” society, where they will be conveniently snuggled up in their retreat, waiting for the Red Devils and Blue Helmets to arrive with their 40 closest Ranger Buddies.

In the wake of recent active shooter events in the country, a common refrain among the “Sheep Dog” gun culture is how they will simply employ their ‘truck gun’ in the event of a mass shooting. What they left out was that the venue where the shooting is happening is filled with 400 people. The mythical “truck gun” is chained under their back seat, 135 yards away, under 7 BoB’s, 19 sets of bug out clothing, 3 cases of MRE’s and more commo gear than a CCT guy has access to.

The 360 lb. hero is supposedly going to first manage to avoid being perforated by the shooter, sprint through 400 screaming, crying and hysterical people, make it outside, deploy his AR pistol (don’t forget, you can’t shoulder those. *wink) and “active shooter bag,” fight the masses back inside against the flow, manage not to get shot by first responders, or taken down by a CCW’er, and go to work on the shooter before they self terminate themselves.

Stop being so stupid.

Tactical Fantasy Band Camp simply does not prepare you for operating in the totally un-sexy street clothes on your back instead of your Kryptek Highlander, with the pistol in your waistline and yourself alone as your team. In our daily lives we are not wearing all our kit, a RACK with 18 magazines and a Team Wendy Exfil. We don’t have a rifle in our back pocket in aisle 18 of the local Wally World. I can assure you asking your favorite instructor on Facebook what pants he is wearing in the latest Firelance Media photo array, will not make you more combat effective in the fight. I’m sure the ones you are wearing will work just fine.

You have what you have on you. You have your EDC. You are much more likely to be accosted in the local mall than you are by invading Soviets in the Fourteener’s of the Rocky Mountains.

https://westernrifleshooters.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/shackles.jpg?w=884&h=751

Never forget: it is always the Uniparty versus you. Anything else is distraction.

Focus on the most likely, then work to the least likely. And for gods sake people, if you are a new shooter and all your gear is in the way of you learning how to shoot and manipulate your weapon, please strip all that junk off, run a mag in your back pocket and LEARN. Then add in the Ninja Force 5 accouterments.

Yes, we all should have a team. The proverbial ‘Village’ or ‘Tribe’ to fall back on for mutual assistance, division of labor, and all that good stuff. But we need to recognize the limitations and capabilities at play. Unless you live with your “team” of 6 SMU SAS Delta Seals, they will play no role in aiding you when your door is kicked in at 0300. They will not be there for you when you stop to grab a few dollars out of one of those ATM’s in the middle of a barren parking lot late after work one night and you are violently attacked and find yourself in a gun fight where your only cover is the pillars, engine block and wheels of your car while you try to reduce the threat with your Glock 42. Where was your Wonder Blaster 6000 Glock 34 with the race work, comp and RMR? Oh, too bulky and impractical to carry everyday?

You must fight with what you have on you. Hence you must train the most with what you will most likely have on you. You must be point. You must be rear security. You are flank. You are your team.

It would pay the community well to place more of an emphasis on the need to train with their pistol. Put primary focus on that until a satisfactory standard is met.

Some say there is no use in learning real pistol marksmanship, because “21 foot rule!” Shut up, stupid. Everyone is a sniper at three yards. Back away from the keyboard for a second. Stop making excuses. The average grocery store aisle in the US is about 25 yards. Are we capable of making those life or death shots with a carry gun to end a threat to our lives and families from such a distance reliably? If not, put down the damn AK-74 for just a second and run some dot torture with your carry gun. Yes, the gun you CARRY. If it’s a J-frame or mouse gun, maybe you’ll find out the capabilities of those guns and whatever drawbacks may be present with that choice.

Perhaps a good medical course makes sense to stop the bleeding of your wife who got shot in the leg. If our mindset is only “whelp, we wont have trauma surgeons in SHTF…” it will do nothing to solve the problem of your loved one bleeding out from the crazy shooter in the movie theater while waiting for LE to clear the scene to allow casualties to be treated. I would want to know how to pack that wound, seal that chest or slap on that TQ today, rather than putting my focus on a time when a trauma surgeon may be as scarce as hen’s teeth in the future and using it as an excuse to not put medical higher the training priority list.

Is the ‘prepper’ communities focus on rural patrolling and greenside work going to help us search or clear a structure when one comes home from work to find their cell phone dead and their door kicked in on their house, where their 14-year old daughter was supposed to be after school? Is a sole focus on Ranger team tactics and dynamic entry TTP’s in solving said problem going to apply to a single person trying to do the same task? If you are only with your non-gun minded wife, will she understand that your incessant asking permission by shouting “MOVING!” needs to be answered with “MOVE!” Doubtful. Practice real world communication for these situations. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Adapt. Who cares if its not ‘doctrine.’ Do what is applicable to your situation and what works. If you fail to adapt, you will fail to win.

While it is very wise and worthwhile to seek training in small unit tactics and rural patrolling, how many of the people who have done such training in the ‘patriot/prepper/III world’ actually live in an environment where they would even use it? If you live in downtown Charlotte, why in the world are you spending eight weekends a year doing rural patrolling and no other training that applies to your actual AO? How many recent insurgencies did small units operating solely in rural areas win? Was the PIRA flying a wedge formation down Main Street in Belfast in 1970? Perhaps throwing in a study of Michael Collins or The Troubles may be something to look at when considering how an unconventional war may unfold in these united States.

One of the few positives in life you can count on, is that it’s going to be dark every day. Many guys I run across say they don’t need a light on any of their guns. They must not like to see at night. They must not work at night. Or they think they are miraculously are going to pull a pair of dual tube’s out of their rear end when the Event happens and clear there their house DEVGRU style with IR lasers when they hear a bump in the night. If a tactic, manipulation or technique doesn’t work both in the day and during the night, consider using one that does. Carry a hand held light at minimum. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll use it. The Surefire Fury line is hard to beat. Use all the lumens to your advantage when needed.

Most people spend large portions of the day in their vehicles. Maybe you should learn how to work around those vehicles. Know what is cover, what is concealment, what parts cause deflection. Maybe learn some defensive driving skills. As Will Petty says the average vehicle is about 28 million grains. I’d rather use that to end a threat than 124 grains in my 19. This is purely food for thought.

Steve Fisher, formerly of Magpul Dynamics and current head of Sentinel Concepts, speaks of containers and zones. How most of our day is comprised of going from one container or zone, say our house, into another container, our car, then into another container, our work place, then to another zone, out to lunch, and so forth.

Matt Graham of Graham Combat speaks of the lines, the lights and the lanes. How we rely on the normalcy bias and the structure of the lines, lights and lanes of life. There is no normal in the fight. People are compliant, and they follow the commands of the active shooter or the oppressive state authorities without any resistance. People think fights should be fair and there must be rules. There are no rules and no fair fights in the real world.

Graham speaks of mindset being just mindset and not ‘combat mindset’ or ‘driving mindset’ or any other variation. The mindset you have in the real world driving to work must be the same mindset you have on the range or in the fight. We must grasp this concept and apply it in our current daily lives and not focus solely on spending 30K to mitigate an EMP to protect our 500$ laptops, but how to deal with much more likely scenario’s first.

Graham and Fisher are speaking truth. Most of our lives are spent in containers and and zones within those containers. Within the lights and the lanes. Where is all the home defense and shoot house classes in the preparedness world? Everyone is to busy focusing on the apocalypse instead of the all more likely situation where someone needs to search their own house to defend their family. By all means lets learn those hasty attacks, raids and break contacts, and master them, but lets just make sure we have the most likely needed skills down as well.

To echo some other writers in the community, there won’t be another 1775. The Bastille is not going to be stormed any time soon. The South is not going to rise again as Boot Licker Syndrome has enveloped the entire USSA. The final liberty solution is nowhere in sight. Live your life. Be free. Don’t be a slave. Rely on yourself and your trusted network, not the state. Instead of only focusing on such ‘line in the sand,’ history-altering events, focus on the most likely scenarios first. Develop those plans before your ‘meteor hit my backyard’ strategy. The S has already hit the F. We are in the slow downward spiral of all empires.

Old school firearms training icon Louis Awerbuck famously said “trigger reset; that’s gonna get you killed!” He was referring to the trigger management technique of pinning the trigger to the rear after firing, and holding until the recoil of the gun is over to reset the trigger. I’d submit that focusing on the apocalypse FIRST instead of the most likely threats is going to get people killed in the streets in present day. Roll with the premise that no one is coming to save you. Train for that first and foremost. Then go to Fantasy Band Camp.

Head up. Gun up.

About the author: John Meyers traces his Appalachian ancestry back nine generations to the 1750’s. He lives with his family on the high ridges of the Smoky Mountains.

Source: ZeroGov

Schiff Warns: “The Whole Economy Has Imploded … Collapse Is Coming”

https://s16-us2.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn3.freedomoutpost.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F06%2Feconomic-collapse.jpg&sp=3b7a581e9216ee06e81159dcf33fa4c6Back before 2008 Peter Schiff was harshly criticized and laughed at for his predictions about a coming economic collapse. Among other things Schiff warned that consumer spending had hit a wall, stocks were overpriced and lax credit lending practices would lead to a detonation of the banking system. Rather than heed the warnings, the biggest names in mainstream media tried to discredit him for not toeing the official narrative. Shortly thereafter, of course, Schiff was vindicated and much of the doom he had forecast came to pass.

Today, Schiff continues to argue that the economy is on a downhill trajectory and this time there will be no stopping it. All of the emergency measures implemented by the government following the Crash of 2008 were merely temporary stop-gaps. The light at the end of the tunnel being touted by officials as recovery, Schiff has famously said, is actually an oncoming train. And if the forecast he laid out in his latest interview is as accurate as those he shared in 2007, then the the train is about to derail.

We’re broke. We’re basically living off of debt. We’ve had a huge transformation of the American economy. Look at all the Americans now on food stamps, on disability, on unemployment.

The whole economy has imploded… the bottom hasn’t dropped out yet because we’re able to go deeper into debt. But the collapse is coming.

Fundamentally, America is worse off now than it was pre-crash. With the national debt rising unabated and money being printed out of thin air without reprieve, it is only a matter of time.

Schiff notes that while government statistics claim Americans are saving again and consumers seem to be spending, the average Joe Sixpack actually has a negative net worth. But most people don’t even realize what’s happening:

I read a statistic… The average American has less than a $5000 net worth… it’s pathetic… we’re basically broke… but in fact it’s much less… If you actually took the national debt and broke it down per capita, the average American has a negative net worth because the government has borrowed in his name more than the average American is able to save.

What’s happening is pretty much what we would anticipate. I don’t see from the data any real economic recovery, certainly not in the United States.

We’re spending more money, but it’s not because we’re generating more wealth. We’re generating more debt. We’re using that borrowed money to consume and so temporarily it feels that we’re wealthier because we get to spend all that money… but we have to come to terms with paying the bill.

The bills are going to come due. Right now interest rates are being kept at zero which makes it possible to service the debt even though it’s impossible to repay it… at least we can service it. But once interest rates go up then we can’t even service it let alone repay it.

And then the party is going to come to an end.

The problem, of course, is that no one with any real influence over public perception, like our elected officials or the media, will do anything about it. They’ll continue the party until it comes to an abrupt and irreversible end, and anyone who goes against the official narrative will be branded a lunatic gloom and doomer or extremist.

But vilifying those who are blaring the warning sirens will do nothing to change the end result:

We’re going to have a crisis… There are always going to be people who say ‘well, you’re a stopped clocked… you keep predicting doom and eventually it happens’… but you have to back and listen to why… Why are they saying it?

If you look back at things that I’ve said and the things that Ron Paul has said… This is why it’s happening… it’s not like we’re just saying negative things to be negative and then when something negative happens we can claim credit for it happening.

If you look back at the events it bears out that we’re right… unfortunately our opinions are in the minority… and you have governments that have a vested interest in ignoring these opinions because they don’t want to change because they’re at the root cause of the problem. But they don’t want to acknowledge their role in creating the problem. They don’t want to acknowledge that the problem is more government and that we need less government because that’s not how they stay in power. They promise something for nothing… they promise that government is the solution for your problems, not the cause of your problems.

They’re never going to acknowledge people like Ron Paul for what they’re saying… but they’ll try to discredit you by saying ‘well, you’ve been saying this for years and nothing bad has happened.’

But look around. A lot of bad stuff has happened. We just haven’t had the final and complete collapse. But what good is it when that happens? Now it’s too late to do anything about it.

The reality is that the American economy is on its last leg. Black Friday sales were pitiful, some of the world’s leading companies are warning of recession, and U.S. national debt will soon surpass $20 Trillion.

Just as was the case before the Crash of 2008, all of the signs are there. And just like before, the stock market continues to hover near all-time highs.

If you’ve been paying attention you know what happens next.

Source: Zero Hedge

Venezuela Pushed Into Depression: Food Distribution Under Military Protection

Shoppers line up outside Excelsior Gama grocery story in the Chacao section of eastern Caracas on Jan. 9. 2015.

By Andrew Rosati and Noris Soto

Shoppers thronged grocery stores across Caracas today as deepening shortages led the government to put Venezuela’s food distribution under military protection.

Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country’s capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.

“I’ve visited six stores already today looking for detergent — I can’t find it anywhere,” said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. “We’re wearing our dirty clothes again because we can’t find it. At this point I’ll buy whatever I can find.”

A dearth of foreign currency exacerbated by collapsing oil prices has led to shortages of imports from toilet paper to car batteries, and helped push annual inflation to 64 percent in November. The lines will persist as long as price controls remain in place, Luis Vicente Leon, director of Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, said today in a telephone interview.

Government officials met with representatives from supermarket chains today to guarantee supplies, state news agency AVN reported. Interior Minister Carmen Melendez said yesterday that security forces would be sent to food stores and distribution centers to protect shoppers.

Empty shelves sit in a supermarket in the La Boyera part of eastern Caracas on Jan. 9, 2015. Photographer: Noris Soto/Bloomberg

‘Into Desperation’

“Don’t fall into desperation — we have the capacity and products for everyone, with calmness and patience. The stores are full,” she said on state television.

President Nicolas Maduro last week vowed to implement an economic “counter-offensive” to steer the country out of recession, including an overhaul of the foreign exchange system. He has yet to provide details. While the main government-controlled exchange sets a rate of 6.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar, the black market rate is as much as 187 per dollar.

Inside a Plan Suarez grocery store yesterday in eastern Caracas, shelves were mostly bare. Customers struggled and fought for items at times, with many trying to skip lines. The most sought-after products included detergent, with customers waiting in line for two to three hours to buy a maximum of two bags. A security guard asked that photos of empty shelves not be taken.

Police inside a Luvebras supermarket in eastern Caracas intervened to help staff distribute toilet paper and other products.

‘Looming Fear’

“You can’t find anything, I’ve spent 15 days looking for diapers,” Jean Paul Mate, a meat vendor, said outside the Luvebras store. “You have to take off work to look for products. I go to at least five stores a day.”

Venezuelan online news outlet VIVOplay posted a video of government food security regulator Carlos Osorio being interrupted by throngs of shoppers searching for products as he broadcast on state television from a Bicentenario government-run supermarket in central Caracas.

“What we’re seeing is worse than usual, it’s not only a seasonal problem,” Datanalisis’s Leon said. “Companies are not sure how they will restock their inventories or find merchandise, with a looming fear of a devaluation.”

The price for Venezuela’s oil, which accounts for more than 95 percent of the country’s exports, has plunged by more than half from last year’s peak in June to $47 a barrel this month.

“This is the worst it has ever been — I’ve seen lines thousands of people long,” Greisly Jarpe, a 42-year-old data analyst, said as she waited for dish soap in eastern Caracas. “People are so desperate they’re sleeping in the lines.”

The New World Order Bio War


By: Tom Chatham

For several years many people have had the opinion that the global elite have had a plan to kill off a significant portion of the worlds population and take complete control of the resources and people. The raping of the worlds financial assets by these people has insured that they must do something to cover their tracks in a way to avert repercussions on themselves from an irate population. A global holocaust that puts people in survival mode would lend itself nicely to the police state being erected to contain the people.

Dave Hodges has uncovered some evidence that a company named Crucell developed a fully effective Ebola vaccine in 2006. The CDC has patented the Ebola virus and can now demand to be paid royalties for any vaccine used against the virus. This means the Ebola virus is now the intellectual property of the CDC. There are reports of the government putting pressure on sectors that promote natural cures and health products that may stop or prevent this type of outbreak. Recent shipments of nano silver being sent to Africa have been blocked. This sounds like the elite protecting its investment.

If an enterprising group of people wanted to gain control of a country or even the world, a highly contagious and deadly virus would be a good weapon to use. When released into the population it would cause unmitigated chaos. It has the potential to collapse every major system people depend on for daily life. The healthcare system, energy, transportation, security, financial and food production of an entire country could be collapsed in a matter of months. In a previous article I noted that they war gamed a pandemic several years ago and one thing that came out was that once the economy shut down they had no idea how to start it up again.

Anyone that had the cure for this bug would be in the position to select who gets saved and who does not. That is the whole point of bio warfare. Kill the enemy while having the ability to protect your own troops. When the British had trouble with Indians in America they simply sent them small pox infected blankets and within a few weeks the Indians were ravaged with disease leaving them unable to effectively continue fighting.

There is a movie called ULTRAVIOLET that has some similar undertones to what might happen soon. The government created a virus that got out and infected some people. These people became the new enemy that allowed total government control. When these people were all but eliminated the government developed a new virus to release into the atmosphere and infect everyone else. This would force them to go to the government on a regular basis to get the necessary treatment to continue living.

Who can forget the mural at the Denver International Airport that depicts people dying at the feet of a soldier wearing a gas mask. This may be the future we have in store if this is the nefarious plan of some evil group seeking total control. If this is the plan I suspect it is only the first of a multi phase plan to wage global war and consolidate resources and land holdings for the select few. Any country infected with a deadly virus would be hard pressed to wage war or even protect its own borders against an enemy with immune soldiers.

There will no doubt be people that have natural immunity or access to natural cures that keep them healthy and these will likely be one enemy that government seeks out in the future. They cannot risk the failure to control some and prevent the control of all. The best thing that people can do at this time is to prepare for system wide failure if it should happen and educate themselves on natural remedies that are out of the control of government purveyors of ill health.

If Americans ever revolted this disease could give the government the means to control the population. Anyone who wanted the cure would have to succumb to the government healthcare system. This would leave the rebels outside the system and easier to identify.

Let us not forget that the government has promised trillions more to people than it will ever have the ability to deliver. There are only two ways to solve that problem. Either they can default on the promises in some form or they can eliminate the people that are supposed to get them. To default would cause riots and imminent danger for those in government so another way would be more palatable for them. Zbiginew Brezinski once gave a speech and said it is now easier to kill one million people than it is to control one million people. That may be part of the solution we have in store as time goes on. Obamacare will surely kill many in the years to come as healthcare is rationed and a good pandemic would help as well.

Here is another aspect of Ebola that no one has talked about. If this disease becomes rampant in America, it will most likely be picked up by other species of animals here. These animals may not die from Ebola but they can become carriers of it. With the disease spreading among the many animal species it may cause an untold number of mutations that have the capability to reinfect humans. Just like in Africa where some species now transmit the disease to humans, this could lead to Americans needing shots every year from Ebola just like they now need annual Flu shots for the prevalent strain that year.

This can also make the home production of meat almost impossible as individuals will not be able to afford the testing necessary to insure their flocks are Ebola Free. This can also put an end to hunting as we know it due to the infectious nature of this disease. This could make meat consumption in this country something only the rich and well connected will be able to afford as only government certified meat will be available for sale. The testing of this meat will raise the price considerably. That will probably make the corporations engaged in this type of activity very happy.

There are an untold number of problems this disease can cause in this country and that is the reason people should be afraid not only of the disease but of the government response to it. The government can actually make it much worse than it would otherwise be. With the lack of trust in government today the people have a great deal to be worried about. If we are entering the end game of some plot, we will most likely be inundated with multiple crises at once as time goes on. This will keep people off balance and looking to government for help. At this time people need to stay as informed as possible to keep ahead of the next planned crisis. Things will likely get worse from here so prepare yourself for that.


Alas, Brave New Babylon
By Matt Bracken

Monday, August 26, 2013

1. THE REGAL INN MOTOR LODGE

I used to be a history teacher at a private Christian school in Louisiana. I was in my mid-thirties then, unmarried and unattached. It was June and I was on a road trip, cruising up Interstate 81 through the northeastern corner of Tennessee in my Maxima. I was going to spend the month in Pennsylvania, hiking another 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The trail ran 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, and over previous summers I’d hiked it in sections, from south to north. After a school year spent dealing with self-absorbed and often hysterical teenagers, I was looking forward to the wilderness solitude.

Friday afternoon, and I was scanning the radio dial as I passed the towns and cities. The global banking crisis was in the news; the most serious problems were in Europe. Bank runs of some sort. Lucky for Europe, they ran out the clock at the close of business going into the weekend. But by then the financial contagion had spread to New York, and the stock market closed early after some kind of Wall Street emergency fuses had been blown.

Breathy voices warned of another round of dire world economic consequences, by then a familiar tune. Later news updates reported unspecified problems with the American credit card system. Computer networks were having technical problems. Some cell phone service was down. Spillover from Europe, no doubt. Other problems related to the internet, possibly coinciding with a period of high solar flare activity that affected communications satellites. Plain bad luck and Murphy’s Law were frequently cited. There was even some talk of a possible cyber attack, but of course it was pure speculation. China, Russia, Iran: the usual suspects.

Whatever the cause, the main sticking point seemed to be problems in the international currency markets. The day’s interbank trades could not be resolved; there was too much volatility in the Eurozone as some countries hinted at plans to pull out of the euro. Financial experts assured their radio audiences that it would all be straightened out by Monday. “Thank God it’s Friday” was a commonly expressed cliché laughed into radio microphones.

And that was my working knowledge of the unfolding events.

By the time I decided to top off my tank in the northeastern corner of Tennessee, every gas station was taking cash only, with long lines of cars forming. I’d stopped at an ATM before my road trip and had nearly 300 dollars stuffed in my wallet, and I wasn’t worried. I still had a quarter of a tank, so I motored on and a few exits later, just past a cluster of gas stations jammed with vehicles, I pulled into the Regal Inn Motor Lodge and got a room. The Hindu desk clerk was happy to accept cash at below the posted nightly rate.

I figured the credit card situation might be straightened out overnight. I could gas up in the morning after the lines cleared. I was in no hurry; I had all summer. That was my thinking going to bed that night.

Woke up to no power, the TV dead, everything dead that didn’t run on batteries. Anything that depended on the internet, cell service, wireless anything, that was all dead too. My smart phone was brain dead. It could show me some of my old pictures and texts, but it couldn’t make a connection. Same deal in the motel lobby: no power, no wireless connections, no credit cards.

On balance, it wasn’t such a bad location compared to many others places I might have been when the lights went out. I could have been passing through Birmingham or Baltimore. In rural northeastern Tennessee, the typical clients of the Regal Inn were long-haul truckers and families on a budget.

Next door, the Waffle House was still serving food, but only to cash customers. Their emergency generator quickly ran out of fuel. Without electricity, the food in their freezers was defrosting, but their propane tanks still cooked hot. Then the police moved into the restaurant, and the generator was fired up again, presumably with government fuel.

The restaurant was full of cops. Plenty of light inside the big glass windows and plenty of cop cars parked outside made it a safe place. By the third day the new restaurant policy was cops only, and we highway refugees were turned away. Even the parking lot was only for police. A little Alamo, ringed by a wall of police vehicles parked end to end.

The Regal Inn had no generator, but there was still some stale “continental breakfast” food, cereal and muffins, which we shared in a civil manner (the motel staff hadn’t hidden it quickly enough). Tap water was gravity fed from an elevated tank until it ran out. We had all filled our bathtubs with water before then. Many of my fellow stranded travelers wanted to stay, afraid of the chaos being reported in the cities.

Some Knoxville radio stations were still on the air, running on generator power. Their sporadic reports were equal parts confusion, terror, mayhem, and anarchy. Shooting, killing, carjacking, home invasions. Hospitals crying in desperation for help. Some motel guests rushed away, and others stayed, too afraid to move down the interstate.

The motel staff allowed us to stay, on the mutual presumption that our bills would ultimately be paid once the credit card system came back on. Their sole alternative was to demand cash and threaten to evict us, and watch more tenants bolt without paying anything.

Eventually the potable water hoarded in a bathtub runs out, and I soon learned that it runs out much faster if you have entire families, from grannies to infants, living in single motel rooms. When my neighbors begin imploring me, the obvious bachelor, for some extra water for their kids, I knew it was time to move on. Let them have the remaining tub water, and the extra bed and square feet to spread out in. I had other options—they didn’t.

Around then, a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter buzzed the motels and gas stations of our service road and dropped leaflets. Our little town was designated a FEMA logistical hub. Even in that Tennessee crossroads town, all of the supermarkets, restaurants, and any other places with food had been looted to the bare shelves by the third day, the police not interfering in the least. Food was not my immediate problem, though. I had camping food hidden in the trunk of my car, a carefully guarded secret. Mountain House freeze-dried entrees, just add water and heat. Protein bars, energy bars, trail mix; enough for a month.

According to the leaflets, each person applying for employment at the FEMA center would be given two weeks’ worth of emergency food rations and water purification tablets. The leaflets meant food and maybe even a paying government job; it was the talk of the motel lobby crowd. The designated FEMA location was about two miles away, in a cluster of big-box stores serving the nearby town.

My car was safest where it was, in front of my door at the motel, so I decided I’d walk over, see the show, and maybe acquire some extra rations. The government was finally swinging into action, the cavalry was arriving. I grabbed my little 8×20 trail binoculars and headed out. Always look before you leap. Optics allow you to look further.

Cresting a rise on the town’s main drag, I could see the crowd ahead of me surging toward a complex with a Walmart across from a strip shopping center. The people were being organized into lines far ahead and below me. I pulled out my little binos for a closer look. I noticed a few metal barricades, the low steel-pipe kind that come in sections and hook together around festivals and concerts. Other dividers were made of orange plastic netting and traffic cones. Some soldiers, either Army or National Guard, were running the operation. I saw lots of police cars, a few Humvees, some military trucks, and a single four-wheeled armored personnel carrier with a machine gun on top.

I sidestepped behind a corner where I could watch out of sight. The local topography gave me a good view a few hundred yards away, down to the Walmart plaza. I didn’t see anybody coming my way carrying bags full of MREs, but I did see the queue lines getting narrower and narrower, being funneled into temporary chain-link fence sections. I couldn’t read the signs or make out the words of the announcements, but I could see that men were being directed to some lines, women with small children to others. The lines went out of sight around the Walmart, but I decided I’d get no closer until I saw happy people returning with bags of food.

A mass of people in one corner surged against a temporary fence and overturned it, ignoring the police and soldiers on the other side, too thinly spread to be a physical deterrent. An echoing loudspeaker called for calm, there was enough for everybody, but everyone had to get into the proper lines—as near as I could make out. From my distant vantage point it was impossible to hear the exact words of the amplified voices, but I could see the crowds stampeding over the barricades in front of the Walmart. Police and military vehicles starting moving. Then the flow of people seemed to be reversing. Shortly two teenagers ran past me, panting, out of breath. One of them said, “They’re taking away everybody’s guns. And there’s no food, just trucks and buses back there.”

A minute later, others ran past, the faster young men mostly, and then I heard gunfire. Just a few pops at first, but after a pause, somebody was blasting away with what sounded like a pistol, and then I heard a burst of machine gun fire. Somebody was firing from the top of the APC, I could see it plainly in my binoculars. But the armored vehicle was surrounded by mobs of agitated people who either didn’t understand the warning or didn’t care. The people continued to surge around the APC, some climbing on top; it looked like they were trying to pull down the machine gunner, half-exposed out of his hatch. The driver must have panicked, and while I watched, that APC plowed right through at least a hundred feet of people like a pickup through a cornfield, leaving a trail of smashed bodies in its wake. The rest began fleeing in panic.

I jogged back to the Regal Inn on side streets and behind businesses and houses, and found my car still intact and untouched. Tossed a few items from my room into it and hauled ass eastward up my preplanned bugout route deep in the national forest. My fingers were crossed all the way against unexpected roadblocks, either government or ones thrown up by locals. I drove until I ran out of gas, ditched the car, and continued on foot. My pack and gear were prepared for the Appalachian Trail, so I was way ahead of the herd. I was even returning to a section of the Trail I’d hiked a few summers before. Familiar terrain.

And that FEMA and National Guard fiasco was the last I saw of the official United States government. I dove into the forests and have kept within them, or at least kept them on my flank, ever since. What I know I only know from word of mouth, rumor stacked on rumor. The worst rumors came from travelers who claimed to have escaped from the cities. They invariably reported complete social breakdown: anarchy, madness, race war, mass rape, torture, widespread arson, and wholesale murder. Hunger and hatred squared, madness and murder cubed, the blood fevered by fear, desperation, and the long-simmering racial hatred finally boiling over.

The consistent theme that every city survivor repeated was the utter callousness of average, ordinary people. Shoot on sight at the effective range of your weapon became the only rule of engagement. The further away, the better. Before their faces were clear. And within a month, food took on a different meaning—predator and prey within the same species.

The few city folk who found their way to the Appalachian Trail stuck slavishly to the paths marked by trees with painted blaze marks. I avoided the marked trails; they were studded with trolls waiting in ambush for the unwary traveler. The greatest danger in the forests came from hunters and other armed woodsmen, and there were plenty of them out there, especially at the beginning. If you were seen first, you might be shot without ever seeing your killer. Or you might walk into a snare, a deadfall, a tiger pit, or some other kind of trap. One of those hunters had carried a top-grade compound bow before he took a fatal tumble. I found his camouflage-clad skeleton at the bottom of a ravine, his bow hooked on the stub of a pine limb above him as if he’d left it there for me.

I spent the first winter in a little place between Greenville and Asheville, population a couple hundred in a few clusters of homes and roadside businesses spread out over a mile or two of twisting mountain roads. No name, not officially a town. Trailers, cabins, retirement homes. I was welcomed because I’d befriended a pair of brothers on the trails who later vouched for me. They were bugging out to a retired aunt and uncle’s vacation cabin. We were heading in the same direction, away from crowds and up into the mountains. They had a place to stay, maybe, and I had maps and trail skills. Even back in that early time there was strength in numbers: everybody has to sleep sometime.

The locals met at their high school gym and church hall for barter and fellowship. There was whisky and music, warmth and love, despite the fear and hunger. Bluegrass and moonshine gave us hope for the future while breaking our hearts for the pasts we’d all lost. For a while we believed we could outlast the deluge of despair, safe up in the mountains. We’d carry on, we’d rebuild. Bibles and the invaluable Foxfire books would get us through another stretch of hard times in Appalachia. And when wasn’t it hard times there? For a while some local hydroelectric power trickled into that little corner of North Carolina. Some lights burned in our corner of the world until after Christmas the first winter, so we may have had it better than most. Anyway, our last power was cut off by the end of the year.

There was quite a lot of Praise Jesus, but who could be against that after the collapse? A lot of the folks back there were waiting for the Rapture, but I never saw any evidence of it happening. What happened was more like a Rupture with the past as we’d known it.

But eventually the madness came even to our little corner of the world. When the ad hoc “town council” voted that cannibalism would not be considered a crime if the body was already dead when found, I took it as my cue to leave for deeper in the mountains. Before that announcement, from what I heard, vigilantes shot or hanged any cannibals they found. Anyway, I left around February, during the hungriest time, and cast my lot deeper into the forest, higher up the mountains.

2. THE HAWK’S NEST

My second year was spent slithering from tree to tree and cave to cave, learning basic animal survival on a belly so tight that it shrank my brain by sheer suction. But that’s a chapter I’ll never write, since most of what I remember of the second year I’m trying to forget.

By the third turning of the leaves I was traveling with Lisa, a blonde nurse in her late twenties, and Roger, my age but appearing older. He’d been a welder and a machinist, and sometimes he worked on oil rigs. Roger and Lisa. Good people. As good as they come.

How I met up with them last autumn, I’m not really sure. I was living like an animal, and then I was just with them; how we fell in together is gone from my mind. I have strong but indistinct memories of being carried by Roger, of being dragged behind them in a travois, and of being cared for by Lisa. Rain pounding on a tent made from ponchos and tarps, wet all the time. Wet but alive, and no longer alone.

As my mind improved with better nutrition and less stress, it was my set understanding that Roger and Lisa were my saviors, best friends, and closest allies. I was happy to be with them, happy for their company. We were still nearly always hungry, but we would help each other find food. We’d hunt together and share our knowledge of edible plants and other survival tricks. We’d watch over each other when we slept. But they were never lovers, it was nothing like that, not that I perceived back then.

 My third winter in the mountains was spent with them in the Hawk’s Nest. This was our spot on the Blue Ridge side of the Nantahala National Forest, in the far western corner of North Carolina. The nest’s foundation was a natural cave, to which cut timber and shards of local slate had been added over the decades to make a partial roof and one wall, all chinked with mossy earth to keep out the wind and rain. Snug as bugs we were, after making rudimentary repairs. Dry, cozy in all weather, with a view shared with the hawks and eagles. Raptors constantly circled our stony fingers in the sky, wheeling on the thermals. The entrance was even kept nearly snow-free by the topography and the usual wind direction of winter snowstorms.

The nest was at the vertical end of a minor chink in a mountain ridge leading to nowhere. It terminated in sheer drop-offs on the eastern face of the Blue Ridge, forming a natural redoubt. The airy hideaway at the top of the cleft was my discovery, based on close topographical map study, experience, and a hunch. I imagined that in other hard times it had sheltered Indians, Civil War deserters, moonshiners, poachers, hermits, and other assorted outlaws and outcasts.

There was no way to the top by vehicle, so the cast-iron stove in the nest had to have been hand-carried up in pieces, I guessed maybe a century before. A natural spring was diverted into the nest by an ancient wrought-iron pipe. Enough for rudimentary washing, dipping warm water from a stove-heated aluminum basin. Lisa cut my hair short with her nurse’s medical scissors and combed it for ticks and nits. We grew closer in a special way. Roger didn’t have enough hair on his head to bother with. We both kept our beards short with her scissors.

Around the nest we were safe from discovery or attack, but constantly at danger of a crippling or fatal fall. The isolation was worth the tradeoff. The Hawk’s Nest was a perfect hunter’s lair and we didn’t starve. We didn’t freeze, with abundant deadfall wood nearby, and didn’t go completely around the bend. Cabin fever can be intense with two men and one woman occasionally snowed in for days or even weeks. One or two of us at a time would go out for meat or firewood as the mood and the weather conspired. Firewood and heavy game had to be hauled up the last fifty feet by rope.

My best memories: Lisa and I even made tender love a few times, on pleasant days when the tumblers of her safe aligned and she fell open to me while Roger was off hunting solo. Roger still imagined that our triumvirate union was asexual, transformed to a higher plane. And so had I thought, during the initial recovery of my social skills after we joined up. We were the three musketeers, buddies, comrades, super-survivors, two mountain men and a mountain gal, pals through thick and mostly thin. And we were, at first.

Lisa had been a nurse back in Chattanooga. She told us that vitamin deficiency and malnutrition lead to scurvy, rickets, beriberi, blindness and various psychological problems. Starving people often beat each other to death with rakes and hoes over failing gardens, she told us. The mental results of wintering over together in tight quarters were not unknown to us, but we were mature adults and could overcome them, we thought.

And then one day last week, Lisa fell from the cliff by a frozen waterfall. According to Roger. Fell, slipped—or perhaps she’d been given a nudge? There was no way to know for sure without reading Roger’s heart, and maybe not even then. And how can the merely mad judge the completely insane? Which is which, and who is who? It was easy enough to slip where the snowmelt and spring water froze to the steep granite. We buried her there at the base of the frozen waterfall, under a cairn of stones, sobbing quietly, not looking at each other’s faces.

Lisa’s fall could have happened to any of us at almost any time. As spring came on and we were tempted out on longer hunting forays, the risk increased. The top of a frozen waterfall was a shortcut along the path, of course it could happen. But still, I wondered, what was Lisa doing with him down by that waterfall? However it had happened, it had happened. I stayed awake that night in my sleeping bag, thinking and deciding. It came down to kill Roger and leave, or just leave. He’d saved my life when they took me in on the trail—so I let him live.

What I needed I put in my old green pack, dressed in my raggedy brown Patagonia jacket and handmade buckskin pants. Compound bow and a dozen handmade dogwood arrows. My five-foot blowgun, made of thin PVC encased in two pieces of ash wood for stiffness, one of my hand-carved inventions. My rifle scope, my maps and compass, my solar-powered radio. Water jug. A plastic bag containing a few strips of various smoked meats. A rabbit-leather pouch containing mementoes and talismans, including a lock of Lisa’s blonde hair. Spare arrowheads made from steel razor-wire barbs. Some things I’d hung on to since the beginning, and more that I’d found or I’d made.

That was some days ago, when I slipped out of the nest under the setting full moon and crept down the mountain. After a final twenty miles of shadowing the old Appalachian Trail south toward Georgia, I came to the place where I finally had to leave my detailed topo maps for the scant information of a road map. I knew from memory that the northeast corner of Georgia was just a beige-colored blank on my South Carolina map. But I knew that if I just kept traveling southeast, I was bound to strike the Chattooga River, the boundary between the tips of Georgia and South Carolina.

The Chattooga would carry me to the Savannah River, the ocean, and maybe a new life.

I’d build a raft resembling a snag of branches, drifting by day hidden low, paddling by night. Playing it by ear, dodging from river to land depending on the terrain and the local situations as I encountered them.

There were a few unavoidable dams and cities along the river to sneak around. The city of Augusta would be a major obstacle. It would be impossible to float unimpeded all the way to the Atlantic, but I considered myself an expert at stealthy land navigation with a map and compass—even if the next map was only a state road map. Three years of comparing road maps, topo maps, and the hills around me had given me a superb ability to forecast the terrain ahead. That knack was one of the reasons I was still alive.

The younger GPS generation was lost when their screens went dark. Their brains had been wired from early childhood to be led and directed from point to point by computer-generated voices and pixel arrows. By the time the grid went down most people were incapable of learning to navigate by map and compass, and anyway, almost nobody had them. I was the rare exception, already equipped with a Silva Ranger compass, my Appalachian Trail topo maps, guide books, and my previous summers’ experience hiking the Trail.

As soon as the power was lost, there were no more computer-generated dropdown menus full of helpful suggestions to the traveler. No Google, no Bing, no search engines at all. The screen addicts couldn’t light a fire with an entire pack of matches: I’d seen them wasting match after match in the rain. The concept of dry kindling wood had escaped their educations entirely. After their matches and butane lighters were used up during the first winter, they froze to death, providing gear, clothing, and eventually the meat from their very bodies to the more ruthless and better prepared. I’d seen their campsites, and I’d seen their bones. I’d worn their boots.

3. THE RADIO TOWER

I came upon the downed radio mast after a long uphill slog through not-quite-budding oaks and maples. There was good visibility through the trees, since the leaves weren’t in yet. The top five hundred feet of the northwest slope I was walking up was covered in a few inches of crusty snow that the March sun could not yet reach.

My goal had been to get to the top of this mountain for my next long view toward the southeast. I’d seen this summit days before, using my scope from another elevated vantage point now many miles behind me. In the distance I’d noticed a sharpish-something poking above the treetops of a ridge. Now I knew for certain that I was on the mountain I’d seen, and what that sharpish-something was. The wreck of the tower was running uphill and in my direction.

The three legs were six inches in diameter, the connecting struts about half that, and saplings had grown up around and through them. Alternating twenty-foot sections of the tower had been painted red and white, corresponding with the sections that had been bolted together during its erection many years earlier.  In another minute I reached the top.

The bottom section was still bolted to a concrete pad, leaving a hundred feet of unbroken tower still jutting into the sky. I’d seen enough radio towers to guess what had happened. Wire-stayed towers were usually supported by three sets of wires, spread 120 degrees apart. Somebody had cut the outermost guy wires on one side, the wires that led to the upper sections of the mast. An ordinary hacksaw and a little patience could do the job.

Near the base of the mast was a single-room cement block structure, as well as large metal boxes for electrical transformers. Both tower and structures were surrounded by a chain-link fence enclosing perhaps a quarter acre. The vehicle gate’s chain had been cut, the gate left open. My natural caution warned against entering what could be a trap, but my greater curiosity sent me through (after a close look for trip lines, snares, and traps). New growth through the fencing ensured that the gate could not swing shut behind me.

There was no sign of recent human activity.

The control room and the exterior metal boxes were stripped bare of wires and cables. Generators and other machinery once bolted to the concrete pad around the base of the radio mast had been removed. Some of the thicker cables had not been chopped but were still in place. A salvage project, half completed. Was somebody wiring his own electrical grid? Otherwise, why bother? Maybe they’d gotten the wire that they needed, and good luck to them.

I stuck my pack inside the empty control room, out of sight. The sky was free of clouds, a perfect opportunity to extend my view toward distant ridges, filling in some of the blanks on the next map. I was nervous just being on the summit, much less up in the tower; I was potentially visible to a thousand hidden eyes, distant or near. But my desire to see the horizon overcame my reluctance. The chance for a long-range view was an opportunity of strategic importance, especially without topo maps going forward. I considered what I’d take with me up the tower: my South Carolina road map and compass, my rifle scope, and my solar-powered portable AM/FM radio.

I decided to take my compound bow and quiver of arrows, more for psychological reasons than for any plausible tactical advantage. I’d be visible to anybody within miles, but an arrow would be effective only against an unarmed adversary very near the base of the tower. Yet I still slung the bow across my back by its leather carrying strap. I hated the idea of being cut off without a weapon.

Iron hand-grips that doubled as steps were welded to the outside of one of the three main pillars, forming a ladder, rusty but still plenty strong. After giving another slow look around, I spat on my hands for luck and started up, one welded rung at a time. The rungs were ice cold, but my bare hands were tough enough. After fifty rungs I was even with the treetops. Fifty more and I was getting close to where the tower had buckled and twisted back down the mountain.

Below that bent and broken section, at the point where the remaining guy wires still held the tower stump erect, was an encircling array of what I guessed were microwave transmitters. A deck of metal grating had been welded between the legs of the tower as a working platform for equipment installers and technicians. With about six feet between the legs, it made a nice perch for me to sit on Indian-style, looking between two of the legs toward the southeast.

From within my coat, kept in its special pocket, I brought out my Leupold rifle scope, already turned to its maximum twelve-power magnification. The bolt-action rifle it had been mounted on was useless without its rare .264 Winchester Magnum ammunition. The scope, on the other hand, was priceless. I flipped open the lens covers and brought the scope toward my eye, assuming a rifleman’s sitting stance, elbows on knees, both hands on the scope for stability.

I could see a few miles across to the next ridges, and I did a slow, methodical sweeping search. The next mountains were miles out of the Nantahala National Forest, and homes were built on their slopes. But there was no visible smoke, no man-made sounds of planes or trucks or industrial machinery. No moving vehicles, no signs of life at all.

It was hard to tell from that far away, but it appeared that many of the homes had been burned or otherwise destroyed. The isolated vacation homes of urban retirees were low-hanging fruit for bands of marauders. The bandits who survived the first winter were hardened killers, practiced at stealth, sniping, ambush, and laying siege. All the homes I could see appeared abandoned, but perhaps that was long-range camouflage, crafted to discourage bandits from making the cross-valley hikes. It didn’t pay to advertise your continued survival in times of starvation.

The scope went back inside my coat. I partially unfolded my road map of South Carolina and spread it across my lap, compass on top to orient it, holding them down against the wind. It was from 2008; Governor Mark Sanford welcomed me to the Palmetto State. Once upon a time Sanford had pretended to be an Appalachian Trail hiker. Had he ever stepped foot on it? Now it was miles behind me in North Carolina, and I was heading in another direction, toward the sea.

The city of Augusta was halfway down the Savannah River. Navigation wasn’t going to be a problem, but encountering possibly hostile survivors would be. My map didn’t contain any population information—pre-collapse population, that is—but Augusta was big enough by the look of it on the map. As big as Chattanooga or Knoxville, and they had been horror shows by all accounts. I’d seen enough human bones in the national forests to be able to take the travelers’ words for what had happened in the cities. Atlanta and the other giant cities must have been Dante-esque hells. So what was Augusta like today? Depopulated entirely? Or did it go Mad Max, run by tribal warlords? Would I have to travel wide around it, on foot?

And on the other side of Augusta was an area marked on my South Carolina map as the Department of Energy’s “Savannah River Site.” This was a place where the federal government had made nuclear material for generations, with several nuclear reactors and countless pools full of radioactive rods. What had happened to all that nuclear material after the collapse? And what about the other hundred-odd nuclear plants spread across the country? Maybe I’d leave the river and head cross-country before I reached Augusta, but that was a decision for another day.

While pondering the distant hills, I tongued the gap where I’d removed my top left molar behind the canine. No dentist—just me, vise-grips, and whisky. Would I ever see another dentist? More of my teeth hurt most of the time. The bristles of my last toothbrush were worn nearly to the handle, toothpaste a long-forgotten luxury, a memory triggered by the scent of wild mint. I shot bearings on my compass to the most promising landmarks along my possible routes, and recorded them on the map with a pencil stub, folded the map, and put it away.

Next I removed my little solar-powered radio from my parka’s side cargo pocket. It was made of black plastic and was the size of a thick paperback book, with solar cells along the top edge. I aimed them at the sun and gave a slow turn of the dial on the AM and FM bands. Static crackled from the speaker. The old batteries inside no longer saved enough charge for the radio to make any sound after dark, but when the solar chips were aimed at the sun, the static noise it made proved the radio was still alive on some basic electrical level.

I slowly rolled through the radio bands again and again, straining to hear something besides white noise. There was nothing but static, not even from this position atop a radio tower atop a mountain. The absence of a radio signal on the tower wasn’t proof that no radio stations were broadcasting anywhere; AM radios transmitted more powerfully at night, a frustrating paradox with a solar radio that only worked in sunlight. Maybe I was still out of range of city radio stations.

Maybe when I approached Augusta, my radio would give me some advance warning of organized human activity. Or maybe not. Maybe the solar radio was capable only of producing static under any circumstances. So why didn’t I throw it away as useless weight? I suppose because it was one of the last technological treasures in my universe: a little radio that made static when it was aimed at the sun.

A funny thing about static noise is that you can start to hear things in it that are not real. Auditory hallucinations, Lisa had called them. Streams, waterfalls, and rustling trees can also play music or talk to you, when you’re ready to listen—and when you’re starving, you’re always ready to listen.

The static resolved into repeating fractal patterns, or maybe I was listening too intently. The old Pearl Jam song “Black” crept into my mind as I aimed the solar cells at the sun and slowly rotated the AM dial. The song’s refrain was playing clearly in my head, but I could recall only a few of the words: “And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything.”

Why couldn’t I remember more of the lyrics, when the wordless chorus was so clear in my head? I tried to picture the band and the singer, and got nothing at all. They were just a rock band, so what? But I also couldn’t remember the faces of the missing real people in my life. Videos, emails, texts, skypes, youtubes, an infinity of images—all those faces turned out to be mass-deletable, both from the digital ether and from my own mind. I had believed that those memories were permanent and everlasting, and then they were gone in a blink. In my mind, only the faces of Roger and Lisa remained clear.

There were a thousand generations of humanity before the advent of photography, much less emails and the internet. Now even sending a paper letter was an impossible feat. Microchips, radio vacuum tubes, even ordinary flashlight batteries now belonged to the realm of science fiction.

The tower below me had once hummed with power. Down below, the easy copper had been hacked out where optimistic looters were able to get at it. They hadn’t gotten around to the cables in the conduits running upward between the legs before they’d quit. I hoped that the wire they did get did them some good. Part of a salvaged power grid? Bracelets and charms, more likely. The tower and all around it were ruins, already returning to the forest.

An electrical engineer I’d met during the first autumn after the Rupture had given one possible explanation for the cascade of technological disasters. Within a few weeks after the power went out, when the internet and telephones were a memory and nobody was getting paid, management and work crews of critical infrastructure sites began to melt away. With the cities on fire, the government could not keep infrastructure workers chained to their desks, not when their own families were in peril. Even the police and military deserted in droves.

The satellites, unguided by their ground control stations, began to tumble into irretrievable orientations, experienced orbital decay, and eventually came back down to earth. Without satellites, modern communications of almost every kind faltered and failed, and the world was no longer sufficiently knitted together to conduct the necessary technological business of the modern global society.

Billions of people believed that Homo sapiens had achieved a permanent higher station since the retreat of the last great ice age. Unlike destruction by a slowly grinding ice sheet, however, all our technological modernity was swept away in a blink. The last live radio programming I’d heard had been from an AM station out of Knoxville that lasted for a few weeks after the power went out. And there was a canned FEMA broadcast alleging to be from the nation’s capital, but that radio frequency, too, had gone silent.

How had it all happened so fast? I had a master’s degree in history, and I understood enough of it to come up with a few theories to explain what had happened, at least in the broad strokes.

Modern society was engineered for the maximum production of profits, providing the maximum comfort for the maximum population, using mankind’s most cutting-edge technical trickery and marketing magic for leverage. Maximum profits for producing maximum pleasures, and it would only get more maximum forever, as humanity’s greatest minds piled one technological miracle atop another, leading to ever-rising standards of living for most of the world’s billions of people. Onward and upward the towers of our modern cities soared into the sky as the suburbs spread outward and merged.

At least that’s how it was supposed to work. And it did work, for quite a while. But a few novelties unique to our time went almost unnoticed. Never before in history had so many been fed by so few, from so far away. By the end, our cities had grown into traps, with the easy creature comforts they promised as the bait. Billions of people moved into these technological beehives, where food, shelter, and (sometimes) work could be found in close proximity. City life was easier for the worker bees, and more profitable—and more controllable—for the queens.

That is, until the digital blood of the global communications network froze in all its infinite circuitry, and the machinery seized up and jammed in place. Suddenly left to their own nearly nonexistent devices, cut off from the food from distant agro-business farms, the inhabitants of our densely packed cities panicked and looted the stores and other food sources like locusts. After that, if the occasional travelers were to be believed, they literally consumed themselves. It was the modern consumer society’s final stage: Consumer, consume thyself. Did I, myself, see it? No. But what I saw with my own eyes in small-town and rural America left me in no doubt about what had taken place in the cities.

A popular historian from the end of the last century named Fukuyama had referred to the end of history, with an evolved mankind finally the master of the universe and his fate within it. Hardly the master, as it turned out. Instead, for decades we had lived inside an increasingly delicate techno-bubble, floating ever higher on digital money created from thin air, and we believed it was all as permanent as the pyramids!

As a history teacher, I considered it a massive conceit by modern man to denigrate as backward the long-lasting civilizations that existed before electricity, electronic gadgets, wireless devices, and computers. Earlier generations had built the great cathedrals, universities, and defensible walled cities on the surplus bounty of the nearby lands and the manual labor of the local folk. Buildings that have stood through the centuries, monuments to the past.

Modern man built illusions of wealth instead. In the end, the glittering high-definition wall screens were just dream merchants, presenting the convincing chimera of a perpetual cornucopia. But even the illusion of modern wealth was convincing when the abundance reached our doors. Thanks to the modern miracle of global communications and computer networks, the bounty always arrived just in time, from fish captured two oceans away to our daily bread trucked hundreds of miles to our tables. Fresh flowers and succulent fruit from other continents were jetted to our local markets within a day. And we believed it was all real, because it was real, at least for a while.

But the edible products that once filled our supermarkets typically passed through a dozen processing steps in a series of plants and factories before their final delivery. It was a networked ballet choreographed by powerful computers across thousands of miles. All the purchase orders and inventories existed somewhere in the cyber cloud. All payment was by electronic fund transfer, with digital currency zipping along optical fibers and between microwave antennas on mountaintops and satellites in space. Paper had disappeared so long ago that it didn’t even exist as a meaningful backup. At best, it was used for in-house emergency record keeping, and was useless for conducting modern trade.

For those millions of people without sufficient money, the government thoughtfully zapped electronic dollars onto their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. Money for nothing, and your kicks for free—what could possibly go wrong? Especially with so many millions of the welfare recipients packed tightly into cities where nothing grew except illiteracy, crime, and rage.

A global delivery system optimized by the power of high-speed computation was a modern miracle that turned into a curse when it disappeared. The global network’s undeniable efficiency was a tempting siren, a fatal mirage that lured its victims into barren deserts or out onto stormy seas, far beyond safety or even rescue.

There was not enough food in the warehouses to endure seven weeks of famine, much less seven years. The perfection of the just-in-time delivery system meant that, like the finest Swiss watch, it had to work perfectly or it would not work at all. Like binary code: one or zero. All or nothing.

Any critical step collapses, any vital link fails, and the chain may break. At the Rupture, dozens of steps collapsed at once, and the entire machine stalled and ground to a halt, beginning with the hundreds of thousands of freight-carrying eighteen-wheelers that ran out of diesel fuel within a matter of days. They were looted and stripped to the axles where they came to rest.

It was a little better at first in the rural and semi-rural areas, at least as far as I had personally witnessed in Tennessee and North Carolina. Farmers with trucks that still ran could take their produce to market, for as long as they had fuel. They just couldn’t get paid for their efforts. Hand-written IOUs and good intentions can’t buy gasoline or diesel fuel from looted stations. Or animal feed or crop seed, or anything edible to humans.

4. TSUNAMIS

Sometimes in history there are social mega-tsunamis when demographic, cultural, and technological waves collide, sending up super-nodes that can be quite spectacular to observe from the distance and safety of a history textbook. They are much less enjoyable to experience personally. Pile up enough Kondratiev Waves and you might wind up at the end of a thousand-year super-cycle, this time with technology as the new rocket fuel poured on the fire.

Without food coming into the cities, latent societal fault lines exploded in a chain of sympathetic detonations. The young pushed aside the older generation that they blamed for sucking the system dry. The urban fought the rural when the cities were first emptied of food and then hope and then people. The devoutly religious battled the strident secularists. Big-government socialists, including most law enforcement, battled the libertarians and conservatives. Cross-racial tribalization fractured the fragile multicultural checkerboard.

When the power went out and the panic stampede for the last food commenced, all the fault lines ruptured at once. The government, from local to federal, never had a prayer of containing the explosion of violence and destruction that accompanied the Great Starvation.

The horror was totally unimaginable even a week before the screens went dark and everything in our world went haywire. Unimaginable because the ubiquitous entertainment screens were perfect for one thing (and they kept this distinction right to the end): distracting the masses. Better than any mule’s blinkers, the pleasure screens both attracted the eyes and fed the mind happy messages. Whatever you wanted, they were serving it 24/7 on a thousand television channels and a million interactive websites. Pick your poison. Entertain yourself to death.

What was the name of that pop star vixen at the last Super Bowl? She was wearing a dominatrix outfit with shiny sharpened rivets in the usual places. And where did she come by her Aldous Huxley, singing “hug me till you drug me, kiss me till I’m in a coma,” nearly word for word from Huxley’s Brave New World? No doubt she’d never read a book in her life, much less that one.

Before the collapse, the high-def screens had allowed each watcher to choose from a virtual infinity of customizable fantasies, but there was usually nothing behind those magical glass windows but a plasterboard wall and another stark habitation cubicle built the other way around for the next inhabitant over. Within the dying hive there was no incoming food, fuel, or running water. Not even electricity to move the stale air.

Soon after the screens went black, the pharmacy-dispensed medications ran out as well, the cold-turkey withdrawal pouring more fuel on our raging social fires. Our Brave New World featured Huxley’s “Christianity without the tears,” until the Soma was gone. A gram is better than a damn, until there are no more grams left but plenty of damnation to go around—and people are damned mad when they’re starving.

If you ask me, looking back, our society went mad long before the Rupture. Who could honestly believe that modern first-world economies could continue to borrow half their annual operating costs from their own future generations, and from foreign banks and foreign governments that were likewise borrowing from their future generations? When in history has that sweetly delusional practice ever lasted more than a few generations before cracking up? Never, that I am aware of.

Frankly, for the rapidly diminishing minority of us left who were neither mathematically nor historically illiterate, the years before the Rupture were like living on the slopes of Vesuvius around AD seventy-something, while sniffing the stink of sulfur on the wind. What’s all that smoking and rumbling? a few of us asked. Smiling mainstream media news anchors answered: We’re not sure, but rest easy. Top government experts are studying it, and they will have a full report ready soon.

In the meantime, pop another Soma and switch back to Celebrity Nation. A gram is better than a damn, so why not make it two? Who needs old-fashioned morality when we have fashioned a brave new reality better suited to our own modern tastes? New and improved, by Ford! Just Google it. Remember Google? Gone with the wind.

I’m just a former world history teacher, but I believe that the edifice of Western Civilization was already rotten and hollowed out long before the final collapse—and it was an inside job by cultural traitors. The final toppling required only a light touch. By the end the Fabians’ disciples in politics and education had rendered Western man impotent, emasculated, ridiculed for his very maleness. Men were unneeded and unwanted by the brave new world’s brave new mommies.

And what of modern woman? Increasing numbers were too busy with their newly unleashed career opportunities and personal ambitions to have children. Or they were simply too busy partying through their fertile years to bother to produce a next generation. And if a modern woman still wanted a human baby for a pet or a social statement or as a passing whim, a turkey baster and a petri dish could do the trick just as well as those vestigial appendages of the human species, those stinking Neanderthal knuckle-draggers formerly known as men.

By the end, boy toddlers were suspended from school for pointing their fingers like guns: their brainwashing couldn’t begin too soon. What a disaster for the progeny of the ancient Saxons, the Celts, the Vikings, the Normans, the Gauls, the Franks, and all the tribes who built the great universities and cathedrals of Europe!

In the end their offspring were reduced to the degraded state of reservation Indians, fed a hundred brands of Soma and Victory Gin, legal by prescription or illegal with a wink, knowingly led into the fatal addiction of welfare dependency. Turn on and tune out; nobody will judge you. The smiling government agent will both purchase your Soma and pay you for your perceived disabilities out of the same bottomless digital bank.

The cultures that built the cathedrals and universities of Europe were deconstructed and defeated from within by the prophets of post-modern anarchy and nihilism, a priesthood of elite traitors who knowingly poisoned the vigor of their own once-proud societies.

Sufficiently weakened, these cultures were then beset from without by the disciples of a seventh-century madman who fashioned a cult of desert pirates so cruel and destructive that its most faithful adherents ban music, burn and blow up ancient churches, obliterate statues of the Buddha with artillery shells, and stone victims of rape to death for adultery. These alien desert pirates had been ushered through the city gates by the same Fabian traitors, who, not up to the ultimate job of strangling their own cultures, allowed its final assassins to infiltrate and amass to strike for the kill.

Jean Raspail, where is your Camp of the Saints today? Our civilization disappeared in the long night, leaving us strangers in our own newly strange lands even before the final Rupture that tore everything and everyone down—rich and poor, saints and sinners, the good, the bad, and the ugly alike.

In the crisis that befell us, metrosexual males who recently obsessed over their own appearances couldn’t even protect themselves, much less any stray women, orphaned children, or the lost elderly of their extended clans. These pitiful Peter Pans perished outright, or they were captured and enslaved, abused without mercy, and finally consumed for food. Mohicans every last one, their tribes were not even mourned in extinction, because they were already launched upon a voluntary-human-extinction project even before the electronic coup de grace was applied.

We were a generation too busy staring at shimmering pleasure screens even to reproduce, until the moment that the fantasy windows winked to black and reality crashed down. A great truth was learned, too late: pixels, bytes, and digits do not endure when the networks driving them explode in clouds of zeros and ones and disappear forever.

And no disappearing digits loomed larger during the Rupture than those on 50 million “Electronic Benefit Transfer” food-stamp cards. The wisdom of a thousand generations of hard reality teaching stern frugality had been wiped out, encouraging generations of near imbeciles to reproduce without limit—as long as those warm bodies could be rendered into votes for the Big-Government Party (left and right versions). “It’s free, swipe your EBT” became a mantra of the age. It was racist to protest.

Instead of the historical level of under 5 percent out-of-wedlock births, guaranteeing a strong foundation of family life to undergird each new generation, we’d rocketed to an unprecedented rate of over 50 percent, the first Bastard Nation in modern history. Some 90 percent of the men incarcerated in prison were raised by fractured family fragments, and often didn’t know their own fathers. We shrugged these facts off as insignificant byproducts of modernity, and partied on.

Natural laws learned over thousands of years were mocked, ridiculed, overturned, and even outlawed. Toward the end, homosexual drill sergeants prowled the barracks grooming receptive teenage recruits. Hey, we were told, it’s their business, and who are you to judge them? Later, they could get married in the post-interfaith worship center by a military spiritual advisor (“chapels” and “chaplains” having been purged from the lexicon for favoring the Christian faiths) and then move on to adopting children.

And finally, the last old-guard bunker to fall: the Boy Scouts, completing the cycle of government-approved sodomite corruption. For a century the Scouts were morally straight? According to whose definition of straight? So why shouldn’t adult homosexual Scout leaders share tents with teenagers in our brave new world? Don’t be a homophobe, we were told. Each child can make his or her own free choice about their gender identity, but now with helpful adult mentors to guide them along the formerly forbidden paths.

If it feels good, do it. Or have it done to you. Or even do it unto the little children. Tommy wants to become Tomasina before heading to kindergarten? Her brave new mommy agrees? A government-provided surgeon will perform the “gender reassignment” operation. And if kindergarten isn’t soon enough to put the kids on the unrepressed road to gender identification, then start them on Heather Has Two Mommies and Prince and Prince cartoon books in the government-subsidized day care centers.

Smiling experts assured us that we were merely throwing off the shackles of our repressed sexualities. Dissent is hate, and hate is not tolerated around here, mister, so shut up and get with the program. Well, I couldn’t get with the program, so I quit my public high school job. As a world history teacher, moving from a public school to a Christian academy (at less pay and fewer benefits) gave me a couple more years of insulation from the social wreckage cascading down.

I kept looking up for the big asteroid, but we didn’t need God to smite us from outer space. In the end, we smote ourselves with our hubris, believing that we were replacing God’s wisdom with our own. The proud decadence and in-your-face cultural perversions didn’t cause the Rupture, but they were surely flashing red signs warning that the end was near.

It must be the history teacher in me who always seeks historical precedents and comparisons. The former USSR, with the full power of a mass-murdering totalitarian state behind it, attempted for seventy-five years to create a new society of atheist but socially altruistic New Soviet Men—and failed utterly to achieve it. The Soviets considered this a goal worth slaughtering tens of millions of their countrymen, and they still couldn’t achieve it. Not even across four generations and with an entire archipelago of Gulag slave labor camps.

But not even the mass-murdering Soviet rulers were foolish enough to attempt to outlaw sexual differences and mandate a New Genderless Person in the name of perfect political correctness. What sane person in the United States could possibly have thought that our own vastly more ambitious experiment in social re-engineering would turn out any better than the simpler economic revolution attempted by the USSR?

Our modern human folly is so easy to understand in retrospect. A gullible generation or two can be brainwashed into believing that up is down, that there is no absolute wrong or right, and that the old natural laws can be abolished according to the social and political fashions of the age.

But of course even widely held false beliefs are not the same as the truth. The belief that the law of gravity has been repealed as being unfair to the heavy can easily be tested with a single step away from a cliff. The enduring truths of other supposedly outdated natural laws took longer to test, but in the end the proofs were just as conclusive, and just as fatal, but on a much vaster scale.

When the Rupture occurred, it had been a hundred generations since Jesus carried His cross up Calvary. What a conceit of history to believe that we, uniquely among the generations that had come before, had mastered the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and put them behind us for all time. Health and hunger reduced to economic equations and tax policies. Fukuyama’s End of History.

We believed that we had created a Brave New World, where candy-cane lies and Santa Claus promises could trump hard reality at the election booth every two years. But if all good things must come to an end, how much sooner must the corrupt and the unreal collapse into rubble and tears? Imbalances so great, in a machine running at such a high speed, could only result in calamity when the connecting struts gave way and the beast flew apart.

When was the last generation that saw such a population drop as after the Rupture? When was a population reduced to such a point that nobody was in a position even to estimate it? The Black Death of the 1300s reduced Europe’s population by a third, but even that wasn’t a truly global event. Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in the 1600s? The Thirty Years’ War in Europe? Paraguay in the 1860s? As horrific as they were, those democides were localized events.

But what in God’s name is happening in America’s cities, if not a word comes out of a solar-powered radio high up a mountaintop tower, and not a single jet contrail can be seen across a sapphire blue Southern Appalachian sky?

Or is it me? Have I survived past my due date in remote isolation, like the Japanese soldier who hid in caves on Guam, unaware that World War II was long over? But if that’s the case, then why can’t I see a moving vehicle, or a waft of smoke from a distant ridgeline?

Oh, what I’d give for an hour-long hot soapy shower to erase three years’ worth of stink! I want to throw away these rancid buckskins and change into clean, dry cotton. Then slip between clean, dry sheets and sleep without fear for a dozen hours on a soft mattress and pillows. Then wake up and put on new clothes that were not cut off of corpses and crudely resewn, or made from animal skins. Oh, to rejoin civilization, if it still exists! Knight-errant seeks castle. Will teach a variety of subjects for room and board. Make me an offer.

I spent two months of my second snowed-in winter with only a Bible for a companion. This experience had left random Bible passages liable to float up into my mind at various times, like the suggestions in a Magic 8-Ball. Passages like Romans 1, for example. Then there was something in Psalm 106 about the Canaanites killing their own babies in order to pursue inventions and go whoring. The God of the Bible was not pleased in either case. There was one from Revelation — where else? — that came into my mind.

“Standing far off for the fear of her punishment, crying Alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour your judgment has arrived!”

The new Babylon was a place where modern man grew so mighty—in his own estimation—that he replaced God’s hard-learned natural laws and eternal rhythms with his own latest impulses and basest desires. The new Babylon was where mankind gorged its morbidly obese body and deconstructed spirit on endless food and limitless pleasure, grew like a maggot fattening upon the bloating corpse of Western Civilization, and then burst and devoured itself in a final death-feast.

The man-machine social engine believed that it had become God, but all man-made constructions are imperfect. The bridge to the future supporting humanity’s billions of lives was built of pixie dust suspended in the ether by magnetism. It all shattered to atoms when the props were kicked out from under the whirling techno-machine, and we all had to live on what we could grow or raise within our eyesight without murdering each other.

It had to happen sooner or later, and it happened sooner. We couldn’t even pump clean drinking water without electricity. Electricity was the oxygen we breathed, and without our technology, we died like stranded astronauts on an abandoned space station. Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead.

The primary lesson I have learned over the past three years is that it is much harder to build and sustain a stable and functioning civilization (even an admittedly imperfect one) than it is to destroy a pretty damn good civilization in the name of establishing utopian perfection by government decree.

And maybe if we hadn’t gone insane first, we might have kept it all running for a while longer.

Modern mankind’s quest for utopian perfection was a form of mass delusion. Computers lent a veneer of artificial wisdom, but they were simply powerful yet fragile tools, tools which extended our society far out over a worst-case precipice. In the end the price of computerized perfection was all or nothing, and in the pursuit of all, we wound up with nothing. The glittering screens were pretty while they lasted, but they turned into broken glass in our bitter hands.

We were led into the desert by sirens, luring us there with mirages. Alas, our brave new Babylon!

Now it’s time to descend from this broken tower and get moving again toward the sea. My route is laid in a series of compass bearings that eye-level terrain will prove laughable within a mile. No matter: it won’t take a Davy Crockett to find a river and build a raft. Southeast fetches the Chattooga River and my possible deliverance.

Adjusting my bow, I went to all fours on the cold steel grating and crawled toward the rungs. For a moment I was facing toward the path I had hiked up the snowy slope. On the far side of the tumbled upper sections of the radio tower was a line like a zipper in the thin snow, where footprints had melted and exposed the dark leaves beneath. My own fresh prints on the near side were not melted.  We had either crossed trails a few days ago, or we might sometime in the near future. I was down the rungs and into the trees like a weasel, feeling watched every moment.

 Now, southeast goes the hunter — after a closer look at those tracks.

Matthew Bracken is the author of the Enemies Foreign and Domestic trilogy, Castigo Cay, and The Bracken Anthology, which includes “Alas, Brave New Babylon.” The author gives permission to copy and reprint the whole story, as long as proper attribution and link-backs are given.