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A Change of Major (Epilogue)

A Change of Major Epilogue


A few months later..

The small convoy of vehicles lined up in front of the now, nearly empty campground. Ernie and Chuck stood next to the lead vehicle, a modified pickup truck loaded down with gas cans and supplies, when Brenda and I walked up.

"It feels warmer, at least some, doesn't it?" I asked.

"Must be in the fifties or so," said Ernie.

I faced Chuck,

"Well, I guess this is it, huh, Chuck?"

"I guess so, Mike."

"The Hartmans to Nebraska, Minnesota for you and then Ernie to Pennsylvania? Think you'll make it?" I asked.

"Why not?" said Ernie. "We can't sit here in a campground all year can we? Besides, I feel like an adventure."

I reached out and shook Chuck's hand and we gave each other a guy hug. I then reached in my pocket and pulled out Curtis' iPhone and handed it to him.

"I think Curtis would have wanted you to have this. It's probably the only working one in all of America if you think about it." I said.

Chuck looked at it and said "Thanks, Mike. I see you around, okay?".

He then went and got into the passenger seat while Ernie took the wheel.

"Mike," said Ernie out the window. "You take care of yourself and this pretty young lady. Don't make this old man come back to Texas and and teach you some manners, you hear?"

"I gotcha and you don't have to worry about that, Ernst." I added giving him one final hard time, "Good bye".

"Wrong, Mike. Until we meet again. Take care." Ernie corrected me.

And the truck pulled out with the others following behind.


A long time ago, I thought I wanted to go to college, so I did. I changed my major and thought I knew where I was going and what I was doing, but life got in the way.

Now, I am still learning, but my major changes all the time. One day it's birthing pigs, the next picking corn and another how to fix a silted well. And along the way, I have loved, been loved, lost friends and made new ones.

I get a report card each day which tells me if I am alive or not and so far, I'm doing okay. Besides, Brenda's a great study partner although we take a lot of breaks.

Every now and then I go back to the campground, clear off Curtis' grave and see how he's doing. Hap says he saw a deer near it once and I like to think that makes Curtis happy somewhere.

I once thought that someday we would set up a monument to people like Curtis for what they did in the early days after The Day, but the fact is, eventually we will all return to the dirt like Curtis, so why make a fuss? Curtis wouldn't have. He loved life and celebrated it each day. Why should we celebrate death?

I miss my friends and my family and I wonder if I will ever see any of them again. For now, I can't worry about it as life will take care of itself. A hundred years from now, we will be gone and probably forgotten, and the time we have now is all we have. So, I have to make it count.

Tomorrow starts early and I have more work to do and Celina says its time I made an honest woman out her daughter. I told her my hands were full with Brenda and Tracy was her problem. She threw a dirt clod at me.

Like Ernie says, it's not goodbye, but until we meet again.


At the end of a forgotten rural road, a young couple and their four year old daughter weeded and carefully worked their large garden. Between this, chickens, rabbits, an occasional deer and avoiding trouble, they eeked out a decent life.

A young man, riding a worn out bicycle, stopped in front of their home and waved his hand. The man looked cautiously at the visitor and then approached him.

"Looks like you have plenty of work to do here and not enough hands," the young man said.

"And let me guess, you want to help. What are you looking for?" the farmer asks.

"Honest work and nothing more."

"I can't offer you much and when winter comes, there may be nothing," said the man.

"A place to bed down and a couple of meals are enough for me. So do we have a deal?" said the young man.

"OK, we will give it a try. What's your name?"

"Bil.. William Hough, but call me Will." said the young man putting out his hand to shake.

"Alright, Will. Come on over, I got some firewood that needs cutting..."

The End

A Change of Major (Chapter Twenty Six and a Half)

Celina and daughters made it to the second floor of the closed movie theatre and found two slit windows which gave them a perfect vantage point of the square from behind the attacking cons. Celina and Brenda took the first two turns while Tracy would reload magazines if needed.

It was then Tracy realized that she had left one of their duffles downstairs by the door they had forced open in the theatre. She told her mother and sister she would go down to get it and would be back in a few minutes.


Rafe and four of his men had made it to the third floor and were moving without resistance down the hall to the "Boss's" office as Holtz had told him. Take out this guy and the town would be his.

Rafe had two men killed and three wounded on the way up. They left the wounded guys on the landing of the second floor and with things going his way, he doubted he would have a hard time replacing guys in the future. Hobbs would be his base of operations from which he could spread out and raid in any direction.

When they reached the door, Rafe called out in a high falsetto voice,

"Yoo hoo, anybody home?"

A shot rang out from in the office and splintered the door, but nobody was hit.

"Now that's not the way to greet company. Where's your sense of hospitality, Hough? We just want to come in and get acquainted." mocked Rafe.

Another shot rang out and again, Rafe's men ducked and looked to their boss for instructions. Rafe motioned for the man closest to try the door knob which he did and shook his head; it was locked.

Rafe nodded to one of the other men and he let lose with his AK at the door frame, the rifle's bark magnified by the close confines of the hallway while each round chewed up the carpentry.

Hough wildly fired three rounds at the rapidly disintegrating door before jumping behind his desk. Rafe kicked open the door and one of his men tossed a flash bang grenade into the office.

A muffled boom followed by a flash of light and eruption of smoke filled the office forcing Hough to stagger backwards from his desk pushing his massive leather chair across the floor. Rafe stepped across the threshold and fired once hitting Hough in the shoulder and sending the Colt skittering into the corner.

Hough fell backwards into his chair and looked finally defeated. Rafe cocked his head at him and said,

"See you in the funny papers, mac!" and fired twice hitting Hough in the chest and throwing his body to the floor.

"Alright, let's clean up and see how many fine women they got in this town, boys!"


Tracy made her way downstairs, picked up the bag and was about to head back up to the second floor when a strange hand grabbed her face from behind while another yanked her left arm behind her back.

A deep voice sounded from directly against her ear,

"Hey beautiful, what's the rush? Let's get to know each other shall we?'

The deputy known as Deuce pulled Tracy back into the shadows.


Vic was still strafing the front of city hall, but it was apparent that resistance had died down to nothing so he paused to save ammo and get a read on the situation.

When no shots were fired from the building in his direction, he turned to the group behind the vehicle to his left and smiled a big grin.


I turned slowly and saw Holtz standing thirty feet away and the end of the corridor, his sidearm held casually in his left hand.

"Why don't you put down that shotgun real slow like, punk."

I slowly set down the shotgun, keeping my left side slightly forward facing Holtz. I had no plan other than delay this maniac as long as possible and hope that Delbert magically appeared in time.

"So where's your little friends, punk? Where's that big mouth hippie boy, huh?" sneered Holtz.

"Dead. Same as you someday." I replied calmly turning my left side out a few inches more.

"Now that's funny. Little snot got his ticket punched. I'd like to have been there to see that. Tell me something, did he cry like a little girl when he died? Or did he scream like a woman and roll around on the floor?"

"Neither. He died saving a kid's life." I said taking two steps forward. "You know, the same thing a firefighter or police officer would have done when a kid was in danger.

Tell me Holtz. Have you always been this way or did you want to be that sort of police officer too. Maybe when you were a kid?"

"Oh no, don't try that cr*p with me, sonny boy. You stay right there and put them hands on top of your head and get down on your knees. I'm gonna teach your college a** a lesson." he said with as menacingly as possible.

"I don't think so, Holtz. Not today. Not ever. You want to cap me, you come on over here and do it personal, look me in the eye and ... Oh sh*t! It's Hough!" I shouted suddenly pointing past Holtz with my left index finger, my eyes wide open.

For a moment, Holtz turned white and jerked to turn to his right and as he did, I yanked the .38 Delbert gave me from my jacket pocket and squeezed the trigger three times. The first round went wild but the next two found the target.

Holtz turned back to me slowly, his mouth a perfect "O" of surprise and let out a huge grunt. A red stain quickly swelled across the area of his solar plexus rapidly darkening his dung brown uniform shirt.

His pistol slid from his hand and clattered to the floor and he staggered forward two steps and slapped the wall trying to hold himself up. He managed for a few seconds and long enough to look at me and say, "F*** you, college boy..." and then he fell face down on the floor.


Deuce was trying to pull the surprised Tracy to the back of the room and was already getting worked up when the girl suddenly dug her feet into the ground and raked the fingernails of her free right hand over Deuces right arm.

Deuce yelped and instantly tried to grab Tracy again, but instead she raised her knee directly into his privates causing him to lean over with a huge "Oomph".

Tracy then shoved Deuce back with a two handed shove and stepped backwards towards the back door of the theatre. Deauce lurched forward and drew his .40 caliber service pistol from its holster and screeched,

"You b**ch! I'm gonna mess you up!"

But he never had the chance. Three nine millimeter rounds fired from the darkness behind Tracy and hit Deuce in the chest in a perfect grouping.

"How many times do I have to tell you to stay away from strange guys?" said Brenda from near the stairwell.

Tracy ran to her big sister and they hugged briefly before Brenda broke off, grabbed the dropped duffle from the floor and pulled her sister up the stairs.


Jose looked at the square and saw the man on the SAW relax his grip and look over at his compatriots who then let out a big yell of victory. Jose took that as good as time as any.

"Fire!" he yelled.

Hearing the call from across the square, Arturo yelled the same command and both sides of the street erupted in a fullisade of small arms fire.

.22, .270, 12 guage, 30-30, .223 and all manner of calibers ripped through the lines of grouped attackers tearing them to shreds. Vic manning the SAW in particular was hit at least a dozen times before falling off the El Camino to the grass.

At the very same momemt, Ernie let lose with the M60 blocking any escapees from fleeing towards the city hall. Brenda, Tracy and Celina picked off stragglers attempting to retreat back the way they came.

It was not without bloodshed or cost. The convicts were heavily armed killers and had been shooting without fear far longer than the assembled volunteers from the camp ground had. They fired with impunity or conscience. The battle was far from over.


Rafe and his men were heading down the hallway when a large figure dressed in black appeared at the end, blocking out the light from the window behind him.

Rafe was about to make one of his trademark comments when the stranger quickly raised his rifle and let off a well aimed burst in their direction.

Two of Rafe's men went down immediately while Rafe and the other took cover.

At the other end of the hall, Delbert quickly moved to his left, ducked behind the corner, dumped the magazine in his rifle and replaced it with a fresh one. At the same time he heard the trademark sound of a grenade pin popping and crouched down in a ball, his face away from the open hallway.

There was a pop and a whoosh of smoke but nothing more. Delbert stood and saw the grenade was pluming harmless white smoke into the air. Using it to his advantage, Delbert ducked low and fired a burst around the corner. He then kicked the grenade back down the hallway towards Rafe and jumped to the other side of the hallway.

Rafe fired a half dozen rounds from each of his pistols and heard them smack against the far wall but could see nothing due to the smoke. He turned to his remaining compatriot and saw the man's lifeless eyes staring back at him; there was a large bullet hole in the center of his forehead.

"OK, Big Tex, looks like you want to play cowboy. Alright, I can do that. Tell you what, why don't you come out and let's have a showdown like in the movie shows? How's that sound?" asked Rafe.

The grenade was no longer spewing smoke, but what had still hung in the air. Delbert waited thirty seconds to his advantage and carefully set down his AR on the floor behind him. He then checked the Colt 1911 in his drop leg before answering.

"Why that sounds like fun Mr... say, I don't recall hearing your name stranger. How about we make this personal and introduce ourselves first?" said Delbert.

"Why you can call me The Lone Ranger, cowboy, and I'll call you Black Bart. How does that strike you?" replied Rafe.

"That suits me fine, Lone Ranger. Now, what are the rules? My mother didn't let me watch cowboy movies growing up, she said they were too violent so you'll have to tell me what to do". said Delbert, still stalling for time.

"OK, Black Bart, you and I face each other but our guns are in our holsters. Then we walk towards each other and then we draw. Last guy standing lives. Sound like fun?" said Rafe.

"How do I know you wont shoot me once I come around the corner?" asked Delbert

"Why that would be cheating and I never cheat. So you ready?" asked Rafe.

Rafe had one of his .40 calibers in his hand behind his back waiting for the big man to come around the corner. Delbert pushed his duster behind the butt of his 1911, took a deep breath and stepped around the corner.

Rafe smiled and then his face went white. In Delbert's left hand was a cut down double barreled shotgun the end of which looked like two open mouths until they belched fire. Rafes head disappeared leaving his body to collapse to the floor.

"Sorry, Lone Ranger, I always cheat. Adios, kemosabe." said Delbert. He then turned down the hallway the way he came and went down the stairs.


I picked up my shotgun and while there was still shooting outside, I had to check one more thing before I left the building.

I went up the stairs carefully until I reached the third floor and went towards Hough's office. There were numerous shell casings littering the floors and bullet holes in the walls as well as plenty of bodies, none of which, I was happy to note, were Delbert's.

I pushed open the shattered door to Hough's office and saw the carnage inside. I walked over and picked up the now broken picture of Hough and his son Billy and wondered whatever happened to the kid. I hoped he made it somewhere good because he was a nice guy.

I looked down at Hough's body laying on the floor and said,

"Looks like you answered my question after all, huh?"

It was then I noticed Curtis' iPhone sitting on the blotter. Hough or his men must have taken it when we were detained, something that felt like a million years ago. I picked it up and left the room.


The last convict went down a few moments later. He held up his hands to surrender but when Barger told him to drop his weapon, he snapped off one more round catching Aldus in the hand. Jose dropped the shooter like a bag of rocks.

Everyone slowly walked out of the surrounding buildings and checked the dead making sure none were alive and could pose a danger, but most had been cut to ribbons by multiple rounds.


Ernie checked the weapon and his the health of assistant before safing and stowing the weapon for travel. In his mind, he thought, "Now I am really too old for this." and they made their way down to the square.


Celina, Tracy and Brenda escaped without a scratch other than the nightmare inducing encounter with Deuce. Hopefully, time and love would cure that wound.

The packed up their gear and went to the square.


I looked out the window on the way down and saw both the shooting was over and many of my friends were moving freely about. That was a good sign. Before I joined them, I went to the parking lot behind the city hall.

There, against the dock, where Rafe and his men had left it, was my Scout. There was a nice dent on the right panel and it needed a good washing, but otherwise, was the same.

I went and opened the door and saw the keys still in the ignition. In the back cargo area were dozens of boxes of shotgun and .223 ammunition. I guess they were using this to haul around supplies, so I left it in there.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I drove the truck over to a big fuel tank in the lot and filled it up along with a half dozen jerry cans lined up nearby. I then pulled out and drove into the street out front.

Sitting on a bench in front of city hall, as if it was normal to be people watching while dressed in black and carrying an AR15, was Delbert. I pulled to a stop at the curb.

"That your truck?" he asked.

"Yep" I smiled.

"It's ugly, like you." he replied.

"Not as ugly as you, big guy." I said back.

Delbert smiled and I said,

"Glad to see they couldn't kill you. See you around."

Delbert waved and I drove off.

I stopped near the theatre when I saw Brenda with her sister and mom.

"May I give you a lift home, miss?" I asked.

Brenda smiled, "Of course." and then stood there.

"Well? Get in." I said.

"I don't think so," she said raising her head and closing her eyes, "A gentleman always opens the door for a lady."

"Right you are, miss. Please forgive me."

And I hopped out and opened the door for my girlfriend.

As we pulled away from the curb, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for the first time in weeks.

A Change of Major (Chapter Twenty Six)

The Second Holocaust Part Two - It All Ends Now

"Shuddup, all of ya. Here's the dealio so listen and ya won't get yer head shot off.

There's two big roadblocks one on the east and here on the west. We're gonna ignore that east block for the time being cause we got an ace in the hole for it.

Now the west block is gonna be strike team one. We're gonna move in across country and take it out once their call in time passes. Then we are gonna make a distraction and cut into town.

Now, you guys with the bus, i want you to wait right here until you get the signal, then come in from the west and pick up strike team two.

Now the rest of you sorry sunsabeeches are coming in technicals into the town square last. Setup the Equalizer and scare the locals into their hidey holes.

I figger about fifteen minutes of fightin in town, another hour or so of clean up and then the party begins. Sounds good?"

The holler went up from the fifty plus men gathered around Rafe and the homemade map spread out on the truck bed. Dead center, bullseye on the map was one word: Hobbs.


"Jose, Arturo and Chuy will take in the main body once we have transportation together. Your fields of fire are here, here and here.

Ernie, you have heavy weapons and will setup here but your fall back is here.

Celina and I have insertion here and here if that first one fails.

Stifflebeam? You, your boy, Chuck and Barger are here. We are counting on you and what you got on your plate. And Chuck, we can't test it until it happens, so you'd better be as smart as you say you are, got it?" finished Delbert.


The air was heavy in his office and Hough felt like a caged animal. He opened his desk drawer and took out a Colt Trooper and checked the cylinder one more time and put it back.

His hands were sweaty and there was a pall around the city hall. Too many men were missing. The roadblocks were at half strength. Even the town residents all appeared to be missing or hiding.

So this is how Hitler felt down in that bunker, said a voice in his head. He waved it away and went back to his calculations for the spring.


Rick Stiller had been a deputy for Hobbs for all of ten days and here he was, in charge. His men, all five of them, were gathered around two burn barrels trying to stay warm on the dry, but frigid afternoon.

The group was primarily comprised of dragooned citizens promised a day's food for a day on the roadblocks. The previous deputies and citizens militia members had all figured out the system and after siphoning the food and goods they needed, were safely back in their homes staying warm and well fed.

For Stiller, it was the end of an uneventful twelve hour shift as no vehicles or foot traffic had been by as it the word was out; stay away from Hobbs. But here they were spinning their wheels.

The old UHF two way field radio discovered in some out of the way location was hanging from the rear view mirror of one of two running vehicles stationed at the road block. Once an hour, a bored dispatcher would call for clearance and the roadblocks would report in. Then all would wait for the next hour.

"City Hall to Roadblock West, over."

"Roadblock West, copy."

"Roadblock West, say all clear over."

"Roadblock west, all clear, city hall, over"

That was that. Stiller turned back to the burn barrel when a flash of movement caught his eye in the ditch to the north of his position. There was a puff of smoke and by the time the report reached his ears, Rick Stiller was alredy dead.

Thiry seconds later, so were all the others on the roadblock.

Rafe stepped out of the bush delighted the first step of his plan had gone so well.

"Alright, you know what to do. Strip em, get the uniforms of those that got em and get all these guns! Gimme that radio, Boon." said Rafe to one of his gang.

Rafe waited for ten seconds and then keyed the radio.

"Cityhall, roadblock west, do you copy?"

"Roadblock west, city hall go ahead over."

"City hall, we heard shots fired, can you confirm over?"

"Roadblock west, negative on that, no shots fire..."

The radio went silent for a moment until the dispatcher came on suddenly,

"Roadblock west affirmative. Roadblock east is taking heavy fire, over"

"City hall, roadblock west, shall we render aid, over?"

"Roadblock west, stay, I repeat, hold your position, over"

"Roadblock west, affirmative, over and out."

Rafe smiled an evil grin. Get loaded up boys, let's go to town.


The school bus had been heavily modified with steel plates over most of the front windows and windshield. When the plate ran out, two by fours, backed by sandbags inside provided the secondary protection.

The front grill had a push bar installed and sheet metal had been welded to the sides of the bus to offer some protection to the tires from gunshots. Rafe's gang called it "The Beast".

The side door on the right side was open as was the rear emergency door.

Currently, there were only four men manning the vehicle; the driver and three gunman whose job was to wait and pick up one of the strike teams once the attack commenced inside town. For now, all four were languishing outside smoking home rolled cigarettes and passing around a jug of questionable hooch.

Chuck, Barger and the Stifflebeams crept through the underbrush to the south until they were fewer than thirty yards from the monstrous vehicle. Chuck was carrying a satchel over one shoulder, the Stifflebeams each had a rifle and Barger carried a compound bow and a quiver of arrows.

Chuck purposefully distanced himself from the others and carefully withdrew a number of green packages from his satchel and laid them out.

Barger took his arrows from the quiver and laid them end to end on the dirt in front of him. Mr. Stiffleman readied his rifle, a bolt action .243, while son Brett set down his Marlin .22 and waited for Chuck.

"Let's go," said Barger and he readied his bow.

The first arrow took the only guard standing solo on the right side of the bus through his neck. He dropped to the ground, but one of the slightly inebriated other guards saw the flash and said,

"What was that?"

But by then, Barger's second arrow caught the questioning guard through the chest in front of his remaining two friends. He dropped his burning cigarette and fell to the ground causing his loyal pals to break for cover, one to the rear of the bus, the other around the front.

"Now, Chuck," said Barger.

Chuck gingerly handed one of the softball sized green packages to Brett who held out the long black fuse protruding from it to his father who carefully lit it with a Bic lighter.

Brett stood and took a classic quarterback position and threw the package at the back of the bus where it landed to the right and exploded, showering the bus with dirt and dust.

"Get it through the target, Brett," hissed Mr. Stifflebeam, "You did it in the playoffs, get it done, boy"

Chuck handed over another, Stifflebeam lit it and away the pass went. This time. money. It went straight through the emergency exit door and into the bus.

A single, slightly muffled pop and a plume of white smoke rolled out the door. One man, his face confused and his ears bleeding stepped out the exit and was promptly shot by Mr. Stifflebeam.

Barger moved quickly drawing a semi auto nine millimeter from his belt and went to the side of the bus. He carefully looked through the driver side window and fired twice. He then waved the others over.

"Let's go, job's done". Brett hopped on the roof of the bus and hastily tied a red bandana to the useless antenna and dropped back to the ground and climbed aboard.


The east roadblock was taking steady fire from the brush one yards to the north of the road when a motorcycle with a single rider approached cross country. Wearing his deputy uniform, Holtz hastily rolled to a stop and hopped off the still idling bike.

"Who's in charge, here?" he asked the four men behind the auto barricade.

"I am, Deputy. We lost Molesworth and Harry's been hit, but we have been holding out for now. What should we do, sir." said a young man clutching an old shotgun.

"Ok, you stay here. You two cut through the brush there and you, head over that a way. When you reach that tree, wave your rifle at me and we'll give it to them. Now git."said Holtz.

As soon as the other three were away, the young man turned to Holtz and asked,

"We're ready, what do you want me to do now?"

"Die." said Holtz and he shot the young man through the chest.

One minute and three shots later, the brush along side the road came alive with ten former convicts.

"Told you it would be easy. Now you guys wait for your ride while I go unlock the front door."

Holtz climbed aboard the dirt bike and rode towards Hobbs.


The parade of hastily repaired vehicles, three in all, rolled down the road towards the east roadblock and then stopped two hundred yards short.

The first car honked twice and one of the men on the road block thrust his rifle in the air for victory. The lead car moved forward as did the other two following in close formation.

When they approached the roadblock, one of the attackers, a poor old slob named Cliff, approached the lead car window, his grin revealing rotting brown teeth.

"Rafe'll be glad to see you guys back.. hey, who are.."

The air was full of the sound of shooting. At the very least, Cliff never had to worry about the dentist again.


Two vehicles rolled up behind city hall as Carl looked out the window. "Great" he thought, "Stiller failed to follow orders, again."

Things had been confusing enough as it was. There had been some sporadic shooting at first on the east roadblock, but that was confirmed to be nothing more than a ticked off old guy who was angry he could not walk through town, or so said the deputy on the radio.

Then there were several shots fired from the same direction, and now, no radio contact with the guys there. Carl was going to put together some deputies from the shrinking staff when Stiller rolled up down stairs.

Carl was still watching out the window and waiting for his three guys to get ready to go when Stiller stepped out of the old International Scout downstairs. He had his hat down low so Carl could not see him clearly which was odd.

That was until Stiller was joined by none other than Holtz who rolled up on a motorbike. "NOw where has that old sorry saddlebag been?" thought Carl.

Stiller and Holtz walked to the sally port and opened up the main door to the back of the city hall with Holtz's keys when Stiller turned and waved at the two vehicles.

At that moment, no fewer than ten men, none of whom Carl had never seen before and who were all armed and jumped out and ran to the back door.

"Oh cr*P" said Carl.


The tow truck, Celina's truck and the Mustang were all parked behind a stand of trees less than a mile from Hobbs. The trailer was loaded down with people as were the beds of both trucks.

The school bus, formerly known as "The Beast" rolled up and was allowed to approach unharmed due to the red bandana attached by Brett and clearly visible.

"I hope this works," said Barger to Delbert.

"It will, as long as the first roadblock is clear. Alright folks, safe your weapons and climb aboard!" he shouted.


A few tense moments later, Celina rolled her truck to a stop and Delbert and I jumped off and disappeared into a rundown neighborhood behind city hall.

Ernie and his "gunner" had been dropped of at his spot nearby two minutes earlier. Brenda, Tracy and Celina were on their way to the only location possible the old hotel on the other side of the square. Their concern was with nosy locals and stray convicts. They were ready for both.


The main force moved into downtown from the south and was comprised of five rundown vehicles with an ancient Chevy El Camino at point. In the back stood a heavily tatooed grizzled con named Vic.

The five autos worked the round about path to the center of town and the picturesque square small towns are famous for. Even more famous are the city and county courthouses of Texas and Hobbs' was no different. Hill Country limestone and rows of deep windows lined the oversized facade.

In the center of the green, the traditional and obligatory green space which was now invaded by at least three of the vehicles as they rolled over the curb with the El Camino taking center stage.

By then, it was evident it was too late for Hobbs. There was sporadic gunfire coming from the inner bowels of city hall. Deep rhythmic booms accompanied by stacato pops of small arms fire.

Vic opened up the dull green duffle at his feet and pulled the Equalizer from its resting place. The M249 SAW was laid across the roof of the vehicle and readied. Once the others were in place, Vic started raking the front of city hall in slow, controlled bursts.


The bus stopped only one block from city hall, the gunfire masking its heavy diesel engine. If any of the convicts heard the motors, it would only emboldent their attack, convinced that reinforcements had arrived.

The first load disgorged with Jose and Arturo and went to the west side of the square. Lined up in the alley behind the square's empty storefronts, the rear doors were jimmied and pried open and camp ground residents poured inside.

The bus backed off and worked its way dillegently over to the other side of the square, albeit unnoticed and behind the scenes.

Once inside, the improvised army, young and old. worked their way in groups of threes and fours to the front windows of the stores, many of the windows were broken, cracked or missing altogether.

As best they could, and with limited direction and tactics, they sat, crouched and stood in the shadows of the windows, their weapons prepared, ready and waiting.


On the rooftop of the supermarket, Ernie and his assistant, a seventeen year old high school kid named Tyreese, hauled the thiry year old automatic rifle onto its perch.

Ernie readied the weapon and gave his young protege a five minute crash course on small arms fire. They then dragged it to the edge of the roof, just out of site, overlooking the square.


Carl and his deputies were outgunned and outmanned. They were armed with sidearms, generally .40 caliber handguns, and pump shotguns. The attackers had semi-auto rifles and more than a few flash bangs and smoke grenades.

Two of his deputies had taken hits; one serious and the other not so much, but they were trapped at the top of the second floor landing trying to squelch the incoming fire.

Carl was about to head to the third floor to Hough's office and get some sort of direction from the old coot when a voice behind him said,

"Happy New Year, numbnutz." and his world went black. Standing in the corridor behind him was Rafe McCallister and a cardre of his gang.

"Upwards and onwards, boys. The sky's the limit!" shouted Rafe.


Delbert and I were in an empty corridor of the city hall I did not remember from the last time I was here. When Delbert said 'HObbs', my take was to let it burn and take Hough, Holtz and all the others with it. But when they explained this would be the time to stop these convicts I realized I had no choice.

Delbert and I had the job of hitting the cons already in the building from behind and preventing them from leaving once our main force counter attacked outside. We could hear the convicts automatic weapon firing from the square along with other small arms fire, but the time for our attack had not yet begun.

"OK, which way is Hough's office?" aske Delbert.

"It's upstairs, third floor, end of the hall." I replied remembering the last time I was here.

"Well, that's where they're heading so call us crazy, that's where we're headed too." Delbert said grimly.

We made it to the stairwell and were headed to the second floor when we came under fire from above. Delbert pushed me back and hissed "Find another stairwell up. I'll keep these guys busy for a few minutes and then tear out too."

I nodded and went back down to the ground floor and through the main offices towards the lobby. I hit the door and saw across the hall a door marked "Stairs" and was about to go inside when I heard a familiar voice say,

"Where do you think you're going, college boy?"