most time but I think we have a way to link the wind turbine to the water pump. We’ll be testing that soon,” Bannerman says.

“What about the guard towers?” Greg asks.

“I think we have a design that will work with an overhang and using fire escape ladders. The night runners made it up the ones in Kuwait so we’ll have to increase the height off the ground and lengthen the ladders. I still don’t have a design for the base but am thinking something along the lines of a control tower. That means we’ll have to pour concrete,” Bannerman answers.

“What about tilting storage containers up on end and filling them with concrete for the base? I know we built temporary control towers that way,” I say.

“Hmmmm…. Yeah, that will work. We’ll need to get more storage containers which will mean another escort team,” Bannerman says.

“That will only leave us one on standby and that means we’ll have no one for the night shift,” Lynn says.

“Then we either do a distribution center run or a storage container run. How are we on supplies?” I ask.

“We’re okay for now,” Bannerman says.

“Then let’s go for the storage containers. I’d feel better shoring up our defenses here,” I say.

“I second that,” Drescoll says.

“We’re also shoring up the animal shelters and locking the storage containers at night,” Bannerman says.

“I’d like to add that we need to look at quarters for everyone soon. Bannerman mentioned this and I think it’s important before winter sets in with the shorter days. That will mean more time spent indoors. We’ve already seen some tempers flare. There was one argument this afternoon. Apparently one guy was caught with someone else’s supposed girlfriend. This will only get more frequent if we don’t do something soon,” Frank says. “People are getting more comfortable and feeling safe so they’ll start focusing on other things once their basic needs are being met.”

“Ugh! Okay, let’s get our inner compound complete and work on the design when we get a chance. I’m thinking it should be along the lines of apartments built off the ground with retractable stairs. Maybe built on top of storage containers high enough so that night runners can’t scale or leap to them. And all interconnected with retractable ramps to each other and this building. We should also think about building each with hoists so we can haul equipment, food, furniture, and the like up,” I say.

“When things simmer down here, Bannerman and I will look into getting with others with the right expertise and come up with a design,” Franks says.

“What about our continued search for survivors in the area?” Drescoll asks.

“As much as I hate to say this, we’re going to have to do that on an ‘as we find time’ basis. We also have the search for the families of the soldiers that we’ll have to take care of in short order,” I answer.

“If you taught others how to fly the helicopter, we could do both and not have to wait for you to be available. Or when we have teams available, we could conduct the search on the ground, or a combination of the two,” Drescoll says.

I feel a weight descend on me. There’s just too much to do. I thought the burden would vanish or at least dissipate when finished our little sanctuary but that’s just not the case. If anything, it seems to have grown. There is always more to do and not enough people or time to do it. And then there are the night runners prowling the streets at night just on the other side of the wall. The smallest mistake or the moment we are not one step ahead of them could quickly bring about our downfall. It’s this heaviness that is settling in. I wonder if the others feel it as well. I don’t know if we can keep up with this frantic pace. We’ll have to keep it up but on the other hand, we won’t be able to much longer. If we wear ourselves out, we’re going to start making mistakes or miss something.

“When we have the teams available, let’s send them out for searches without stretching ourselves thin. Coordinate with Frank for the locations and I’ll take others to teach them when I get back from the search for families. I’d like to take the AC-130 up tomorrow to clear more of the area. We’ll have to coordinate for clearing the rubble from the buildings we’ve taken down and cutting the trees back from around the compound,” I say.

“We have some available for that now if we don’t have to provide an escort. We can use the standby team as both parties will be relatively close,” Bannerman says.

“I think that’s secondary right now. The meeting tomorrow and setting up our inner defenses come first. We’ll start ground searches for additional survivors when time and resources permit. Tomorrow, I’ll start planning for the trip for the soldier’s families and head up in the Spooky at night. When we finish the inner defenses and have a plan for the quarters, we’ll start on those. We keep the other projects moving along as planned but I want us to start thinking about a Bio-fuel option,” I say.

“We’re saving the oil we use in the kitchen and I’ll start my research on that soon,” Bannerman replies.

“Okay, is there anything else?” I ask.

“You know, I was thinking of when we talked about the sub supplying power and the problems with that. Do all of the subs run on nuclear power?” Robert asks.

“I think so,” Frank answers.

“Well, are there other subs and do they replace those rods up at the sub base?” Robert asks. “What I mean is, won’t there be the same problems if those subs lose their fuel rods or if they refuel there. Won’t those go bad?”

Stunned silence takes the group. I had thought about the Hanford storage facility in Eastern Washington but I totally didn’t take the sub base into account. The rods, if they are there, will evaporate their cooling water source and contaminate the area. They could possibly taint the waters of the Puget Sound if the tides and currents are right. If the radiation leaks into the air, we are near enough for it to affect us and contaminate our own water supplies. That is something I’ll definitely have to ask Captain Leonard when we meet in the morning.

“Fuck… piss… shit… we’re going to have to ask Captain Leonard about that and a possible solution if it is a problem,” I say. The weight grows heavier.

We break up for the evening and head down to the nightly training session. Lynn briefs everyone on the day’s events. After the training, I trudge slowly up to the cramped space I share with Lynn. Plopping down on the cot, I hold my head in my hands trying to absorb everything we have to do. All the while knowing the night runners have emerged outside, as they will every night. It’s imperative that we clean them out of the area. Thoughts continue racing non-stop in my head as Lynn walks in and sits across from me.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” She asks.

“I don’t know. I sometimes feel that I can’t do this. It just feels like too much and it’s never-ending. We’re going to get tired at this pace, overlook something and then it’s all over. It’s going to catch up to us and trying to second-guess the night runners and their stupid ability to adapt is like trying to hold water in your hand. Seal something up and another place leaks,” I say, wearily.

“Jack, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You’re trying to do it all and taking too much of the load,” Lynn says.

“Good Lord, Lynn. I’m not doing anything. Everyone else is doing it. If we keep this pace and constant stress level, and we have to if we’re going to survive, the mental breakdown will come soon. We’re all going to have PTSD on top of everything else,” I say.

“Believe it or not, these people look up to you and us in the leadership group to make the right choices. We’ve come this far and we’ll make it. We just have to take it one day at a time. You’re loading it all on yourself. You don’t have to run around and be there all of the time. You’re going to wear yourself out,” Lynn says.

“I can’t ask others to go into danger I’m not willing to put myself into as well. I’ve always felt more comfortable being in front and leading from there. That’s just how I’m geared,” I reply.

“I know, Jack. You just need to pace yourself. And when your flying toys get taken away, you’ll be standing around wondering what the hell to do. That’s the moment I’m both looking forward to and not. I know you and what happens when you have too much time on your hands,” she says, smiling.

“Haha… very funny. Maybe I’ll learn to drive a sub,” I answer, looking back and smiling. She always knows how to pull me out of a funk, which is exactly where I was. I can feel a renewal of energy. She’s right, we’ll just make it one day at a time and do the best we can.

“Oh, yeah, that’s what needs to happen,” Lynn says rolling her eyes. “Please give us plenty of warning before that happens. I can see it now. ‘Lynn, would you please come give me a push. I seem to have beached a nuclear missile sub’.”

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