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SHTF Fiction: A Change of Major (Chapter Three)

We hurried down stairs, working together as we banged the loaded hand truck to the lobby and then out the front doors to the parking lot. There were only a few people outside of the dorm, but they all had the same idea as us "Get out of dodge". Cars were starting up with two or three people inside and not much else heading who knows where.

After tossing everything in the back, we hopped about. "Where to?" I asked Chuck.

"The Applied Sciences Building"

The Applied Sciences building was part of a new Engineering annex built over the past few years. It was a large modern structure seemingly out of place with the other, more traditional buildings on campus. It was only about five minutes from my dorm so getting there wasn't a problem. As I was not in Engineering, I never bothered with the place but knew that Chuck spent most of his free time there.

"Pull around back in the alley behind the building" directed Chuck. I did, and we parked between two dumpsters near the rear entrance.

"Do you have a car cover for the truck?"

Of course I did. My dad gave me one to protect his baby as he still liked to refer to the Beast. I rolled it over the truck after we had removed all our gear (and my shotgun case) from behind the folding bench seat.

"C'mon" said Chuck. Between the hand truck and Curtis and I loaded up like a couple of sherpas, we managed to get inside the side entrance of the building.

Chuck led us down one hallway then another before we banged down a flight of stairs to a metal door. Once opened, we found ourselves in a large carpeted room full of couches and dominated by a row of three, glass faced vending machines on one wall and two joined doors on the opposite.

"This is the study lounge. I spend a lot of time down here" said Chuck.

We crossed the room to the other side where there was a plain metal door without a knob, only a key hole. Chuck produced a key chain with about twenty or thirty keys on it and like a custodian, picked out one and unlocked the door. Inside was a staircase leading downstairs. We followed Chuck, handtruck, duffles and all down the stairs to yet another plain metal door. Another key and we found ourselves inside a large cube shaped room finished with concrete floors, large columns and with a small door on the opposite side.

"What is this place Chuck?" I asked.

"This is the entrance to the steam tunnels under this building and which run under the whole school. I stocked up this place yesterday and last night in case my brother wasn't pulling my leg. Drop everything and come back upstairs with me" Chuck said as he opened up a cardboard box of plastic contractor sized trash bags and grabbed a handful out.

We went back upstairs and Chuck pulled out his keyring and went to the first vending machine. It was one of those kinds with a glass front so you could see all the snack food inside. Chuck inserted a small key into the lock and opened the door.

"Wicked!" said Curtis. "Free snackage for all!"

"Where did you get the key, Chuck?" I asked.

"Made it, just like the rest. I'll tell you about it later but for now, start loading up everything into these bags" he said as he went to the next two machines. We hurredly packed chips, cookies, candy bars and bottled water and soda from the three machines into the trash bags. It was then the lights flashed once and went off. We were in near darkness with the exception of a row of emergency lights powered by batteries which lined the ceiling.

It was also then that I realized I had neglected to phone my sister or parents to let them know where I was and see how they were. When I took out my phone, i saw it was dead, not our of range or powered off, but deader than a doornail.

"Chuck, let me see your phone?"

Chuck pulled his out and saw his was the same.

"Curtis, do you have yours?"

Curtis fumbled around with the pockets on his shorts before answering "Nope, I must have left mine downstairs"

"We'll check it out when we get down there" said Chuck. "But I think this is what I told you about earlier, Mike, the effects of an EMP burst"

While we grabbed the loaded bags from the vending machine and worked them down the stairs, Chuck explained the theory behind an electro-magnetic pulse and how it might effect unshielded electronics like cell phones and modern cars. THis was the reason he wanted to make sure my truck was available now and afterwards I assumed. If there was an afterwards.

When he reached the basement, it was pitch black as there was only one emergency light in the stairwell. With the door open, Chuck said went to the far corner.

"Hold the door open while I do something".

Mike rattled around in the corner of the underground room and soon it was illuminated by a string of LED lights across the ceiling.

"Wow, Christmas" said Curtis

I dropped my bags and demanded Curtis' phone. He found it next to his disorganized pile of stuff on the floor.

Curtis latest generation iPhone powered right up, but there were no bars on the signal strength. I went back into the hallway and then back up the stairs to the lounge and looked again - no bars. I was about to go up the stairs and outside when Chuck stopped me.

"Mike, don't go outside. If that was an EMP burst then real bombs may be falling soon. They may already have fallen on Houston or Austin and if so, there might be fallout"

"Chuck, my parents and sister are in Virginia. I need to know if they are alright. I have to warn them to take shelter..."

"Mike, it's going to be fine. Right now I think your parents and sister would be concerned if you were alright. Let's get downstairs and situated. I have a radio down there and if anything has happened, we will know before going off half cocked".

I put my head down and walked back to the doorway downstairs.


SHTF Fiction: A Change of Major (Chapter Two)

"OK, Chuck. What are we going to do?"

"Mike, get your things together. Pack clothes, grab your coat and all the food you have in the room"

"Um, I got a couple of sandwiches and some sodas. Not a whole lot there buddy".

"What about Allen's stuff?"

We both looked to the Allens side of the room. Under his bed was what we called The Pantry or The Stash. Allen's parents sent bi-weekly shipments of "snacks" for Allen. The snacks however, were more in line with Allen's religious edict of storing a year's worth of food under the bed.

Under the bed there was two flats of ramen noodles. A flat of canned tuna fish. A case of pop-top canned fruit. A case of single serving canned Chef Boy-r-Dee. Fruit roll ups. Bags of pretzels. Individual packages of cheese and crackers and much more. Come back to the dorm late at night? Allen's stash was there waiting. Short on cash until payday? Grab something out of Allen's stash. And so it went like a big joke. Allen was cool with it as long as you didn't eat what ever was his favorite or act like a big bogard all the time.

"I can't take that, it's stealing"

"He's back home in Utah. We probably will never see him again. He comes back here, I will personally go to Costco and buy everything we ate"

Before I could answer, Chuck added "There's another thing Mike. It's why I wanted to get your help with this. Is your truck down in the lot?"

I looked up from my drawer where I was pulling socks and tshirts out and stuffing them into my backpack, "Yeah. Why? Is it far where we have to go?"

"No, your truck is older. What is it like a 1970 or something?"

"It's a 72. why?"

"Then it will probably work after a nuclear detonation. There's thing called EMP, which, forget it. There's no time. We need to take your truck" Chuck shouted as he ran down to his room..

My truck was a 1972 International Harvester Scout with the rag top. It belonged to my dad when he was younger and after some serious restoration, gave it to me for college. There was not a curb, yard or obstacle that thing couldn't overcome and that came in handy on a few late Saturday nights. I loved the Beast, as I called it, and my friends, both here and in Dallas associated the truck with me.

Packing in a hurry was not a problem, I just pretended I was going on an extended camping trip. I pulled out my only other two pair of clean jeans, a pair of cargo pants, three or four t-shirts, all of my socks (including the two heavy pairs) and underwear, my Patagonia thermals along with another set of no-name thermals, a few pullover long sleeve shirts, a sweater, a pair of sweats and my fleece lined mocassins.

In the pack was a full length rain poncho along with a Goretex shell, at least two pair of gloves, a navy watch style hat along with a baclava. I was pretty sure I had at least one set of gel liners for my boots in a side compartment as well. The rest of my clothes were either for dress up (like khakis) or would not be of use (like a dozen or so t-shirts or my bathing suit).

My camping gear consisted of a weather rated sleeping bag, a ground cover, a two man Slumberjack backpack, a spare tarp, a single burner stove, mess kit, along with a spare steel cup, 1 quart pot and a few other food related things. There was also a handful of Mountain House meals in the bottom of the back somewhere as well. I had a Katadyn water filter wrapped up in a sock along with a spare cartridge, some purification tablets and about a half dozen different sized water containers including my Kamelback. I knew there were other things like an extra knife and a hatchet but I did not pull everything out due to the time.

Chuck came back a few minutes later with a hand truck with two large duffel bags piled on top.

"Here, give me a hand with this"

"Where did you get that" I asked looking at the hand truck.

"Downstairs. They use them for moving day. Look out".

Chuck had a third, large empty duffle bag, which he started loading up with Allens food stash. We quickly removed cans from the cartons and broke apart the plastic wrap holding the ramen noodles together and crammed most of it into the bag before I started grabbing some other things like my sodas, bathroom stuff and a flannel shirt hanging in my closet.

"Um Mike, one more thing"


"You have a gun don't you? A shotgun, right?"

I looked down at the floor. "Chuck keeping a gun on campus is against school rules. It has to be stored offsite if the resident is living in a college run and owned residence such as this dorm" I stated matter of fact straight from the school manual.

"So I keep it hidden in my truck" I finished. "And normally park in the parking garage which is technically not a residence and therefore, offsite".

"Good, we might need it"

"Whose gotta a gun?"

We turned. It was Curtis, we had forgotten about him.

"Whose got a gun? And what's up with that siren? Is there a tornado or something?"

I guess Chuck had not planned on telling Curtis, which in retrospect, was kind of mean. Curtis might be a slacker, but he was an OK guy. I ignored the look on Chuck's face and told Curtis what was going on.

"Curtis, there is a war breaking out and those sirens mean we might be under attack. Chuck has a plan and if you want come along, get some clothes and stuff together but hurry".

Chuck looked at me and I could tell inviting Curtis was not in his plans, but before he could speak, I cut him off, "My truck, my camping gear, my gun, my room mate's food. Sorry dude, but your gonna have to give on this one. I hope you have a good plan."

"I do. Come on, let's get out of here"

I put on my coat and backpack, loaded down with clothing and personal gear and picked up the third duffle of food which we piled on the handtruck. I put my sandwiches, chips and soda in a shopping bag, grabbed my sleeping bag and a mesh laundry bag which I stuffed some shoes and bedding into and went into the hallway. It was more gear than I would normally want to haul, but under the circumstances, better to have it than need it and not.

Curtis came out of his room wearing shorts, a tshirt, a pair of untied high top sneakers and some stupid ski hat with long flaps on the side and stuffed bear sewn on top. He was holding his backpack he used for school and pillow case packed with clothes or something. He looked like he was going to crash a little girl's slumber party rather than to some secret shelter to survive the end of the world.

"We got time to swing by McDonalds or something? I am starving. Oh, after we put this stuff in the car, can I run back up and get my 360 a few games?"

Chuck and I exchanged looks and then started down the hallway. "C'mon Curtis! We got to go now!" Chuck said.