BattlBox Story by AR Shaw
Mission 1.2 Welcome Box
SITREP: Solo Camping
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Driving down Highway 1604, right outside of Elmendorf, Texas at daybreak, Davis Cole was headed into work like most mornings. Work this week was just outside of the Bexar County line on an oil rig that moved around a bit with a little ingenuity in and around the territory of Canada Verde. The sun barely peeked over the horizon above the mesquite bushes along the highway. He’d see one or two other pick-up trucks ramble by him that early in the morning. Most likely they worked for the oil industry in one way or another. He’d raise his coffee mug, tip the lid of his cap at the other driver and most likely they’d do the same if they weren’t headed in after a fourteen-day rotation and just too darn tired. Otherwise, they’d blow passed you, and nothing was different this morning…not yet anyway.
Ten minutes into the drive, the caffeine began taking effect. Davis turned on the radio, checking the local news, and when he barely glanced up, emergency vehicles came blasting up and around him, their alarms and lights blaring. Not just one or two, either. After looking into the rear view mirror, he realized there were streams of them. Some military trucks were mixed in, too. “What in the hell?” he said in a slight Texan drawl. Pulling over to the side of the road, gravel blew, and he tried to get out of their way to make for easier passage. That’s when he finally took note of what the radio was trying to tell him.
“…medical evaluation. Repeat: There is an emergency in your area. A toxic chemical release occurred at approximately 0600 in the Bexar County area. Please go to your assigned shelter immediately. If you cannot stay indoors, find secure shelter and close all entrances. If you remain outside, go to the nearest hospital for a medical evaluation for risk of exposure if you show any symptoms.”
That was all Davis needed to hear. He pulled back onto the highway when there a break in the emergency vehicle traffic. Fitting in, right before a military Humvee, he floored the accelerator. “They’re going to close the county border.”
If that were to happen, there was no way he’d get to his college-aged daughter in Austin, north of the Bexar County line. Speeding northeast, Davis met up with the main highway, 181, and when he looked northwest, he watched as a few emergency vehicles, with lights and sirens live, headed his way. “They’re coming.” He took off taking no heed and ran for the county border line. Never in his life did he think he’d have a stream of police chasing his tail. Thankfully they weren’t after him…just behind him.
Not long after, he passed the leaving Bexar County sign and the for a few moments he thought the policemen were going to continue to chase him down but while looking in his rearview mirror, they turned. One crossed the grassy median and Davis assumed they were in the process of shutting down access both in and out of the county.
“Whew!” He continued to drive down 181 and then pulled off on a side road and out of sight. After checking the news on his phone and confirming there was not only a chemical release, there was possibly a terrorist threat as well. He wasn’t sure about that knowing things changed rapidly in an emergency and only time would tell.
Knowing his daughter, Leigh, would likely still be asleep at this hour, he opted to call her instead of texting.
“Hello? Dad?” Came her sleepy, confused reply.
“Hey Baby, listen. Everything is probably fine, but there’s some kind of chemical spill or something in Bexar County and they closed off roads inside and out. I’m just outside of the border. Heard about it on my way in. Don’t go outside of Austin for now. I mean it. Keep your phone charged and take your solar charger with you to classes. Just hang it on your backpack. I’ll remain in touch throughout the day and reevaluate later. Understand?”
Like he knew she would, her reply didn’t surprise him. “Dad, are you serious?”
“Just do what I day, Leigh. Promise me.”
With a long sigh, Davis pictured his daughter flopping down onto her pillow with a dramatic show. “All right, Dad.”
“Keep your phone on. And Leigh, stay where I can find you and keep your pack ready. Understand?”
“Love you, baby. Keep in touch.”
“Love you, too Dad. Bye.”
Knowing she wasn’t into his preparedness ways, he couldn’t help but feel frustrated with her attitude at times, but he also understood. Heck, she was young. Had her life and dreams ahead of her and he wanted nothing more than to help make that happen and a part of making that happen was to prepare and have contingencies planned for emergencies. This was one of them. Things happened. Typically, they were Mother Nature things and so terrible enough on their own, but he had a feeling this was something more sinister than Mother Nature. Only time would tell.
Davis started up his truck again and had all the intentions of going into the rig and perhaps spending the night there in one of the many trailers available as bunk houses but that’s when his phone rang with the rig’s caller id.
“Hey, Davis. This is Amos Barber. There’s been some kind of chemical attack in Bexar County. We’ve been told to shut her down. Don’t come in. You live near Elmendorf right?”
“Then, either get the heck out town now and go camping or hunker down.”
He always liked, Amos. The man was old school, and they often thought along the same lines. “Exactly what I was thinking. Are they sure it was a chemical attack?”
“Nah, they don’t know nothing for sure yet.”
“Better to be safe than sorry.”
“You got that right. All right, I’ve got more call to make. You take care, Davis.”
“Will do, sir.”
Talking to himself, Well that option’s blown. Can’t go into work and I can’t go home. Option three may be camping after all…like Amos suggested.
But before he planned on that, Davis drove on further to the nearby town where there was one of those little cafés that served the locals and the oil men that came to town and often wanted breakfast at five in the morning. He figured he’d spend some time there and watch the news before he made other plans. Leigh was fine where she was, at the moment, but he was out of shelter tonight if things went south.
When he pulled up into the gravel parking lot, there were more trucks there at that time than normal. He got out, and as a habit, because of the Zika mosquitos so prevalent in their area since the summer before, he sprayed himself with a Sawyer Product, Picaridin Insect Repellent. He liked it because it also repelled ticks and those darn things were epic this year. He also preferred this brand since it didn’t harm his gear and lasted up to twelve hours. And it didn’t smell like some of the other brands. A couple easy sprays from the pump and that was it. These days, he wished he’d bought stock; he’d be rich by now.
As soon as he entered the café, the door’s bell tinkled, and in the background, the wall mounted television blared, not one head turned in his direction. They were all glued to the news. When he looked up, he saw why their attention was so riveted. What seemed like a press conference was underway.
“All roads, into and out of Bexar County are closed at this time. We are in a current no-fly zone as well.”
“What exactly was the chemical exposure?” a reporter asked.
“I cannot give you that information at this time,” said the official then pointed to another reporter.
“Can you tell us about any injuries?”
“That information is forthcoming. It’s too soon to tell. Next question.”
“Was this a terrorist attack?”
“It’s too soon to tell. We are still in the information-gathering stage.” That’s when another person in a suit took over.
“That’s be all the questions we can take at this time. As soon as we have more information, we’ll let you know.”
And that was it. The suits walked off stage when someone in the café said to no one in particular, “They aren’t even telling us what actually happened.”
“You want some coffee, Honey?” asked the waitress.
He realized she was talking to him, still a bit stunned by the odd news. “Yes,” he said and slid into a booth by the window.
She flipped over his sturdy mug and poured in the black blew. “Strange, huh?”
“I mean they close the county borders and claim there’s a chemical exposure and yet no one has seen a thing. My sister’s a nurse living in San Antonio, and she called me this morning. They don’t have any patients coming in with chemical exposure. We don’t know what to make of it.”
“Well, I’m sure the day will tell more as it goes.” When she walked away the one thing that struck him was the uncertainty. These were uncertain times as it was. They didn’t need a mystery added in. Hell, it could be a zombie apocalypse for all they knew.
With his daughter on the other side of the closed county…he needed to remain vigilant until he knew what they were dealing with and come up with a contingency plan.
“This will probably be over by noon,” said another patron.
Davis sipped his coffee, intermittently checked the news, listened to the patrons’ commentary and watched through the window at his vehicle and people coming and going. He already knew there was more than one exit to the building. It was something his ex-wife used to make fun of him for but situational awareness was a real thing, and he was an old pro. His instincts saved him and his family from other people’s domestic disputes, robberies and run in’s from other bad hombres in general.
Just then, he heard gravel flying and looked up again through the window. A large suburban pulled in, and several rough looking men with low hanging pants spilled out. They were all carrying guns and headed for the door. With his hand already on the handle of his Gerber LMF II Infantry knife holstered to his waist, Davis knew he was ill prepared for a gun fight, but wasted no time while he walked quickly to the back door exit, knife in hand. Sure, he could have waited around for them to show up. Pulled the blade but really, he’d brought a knife to a gun fight, and at the end of the day, he needed to stay alive to help his daughter if conditions persisted.
That and he also had identified several armed men in the café when he’d walked in; they were in Texas after all. Two steps out the door and gunfire broke out inside. Davis walked close to the outside cinder brick wall of the building until he met the edge and then stepped out a bit. With his knife in hand anyway, he scoped the parking lot. The suburban sat empty, and no one was on watch, while inside, people screamed, glass broke, and shots continued firing. He had a feeling things weren’t going so well for the Marauders inside because suddenly he heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun blast.
Davis wanted none of that. Heck, it was early in the day still. With the diversion going on inside, he decided to simply walk to his truck. He got in, he back out and he drove away.
A few hours later, Davis listened intently to his radio from his parked position from inside a wooded brush canopy. News began to trickle in of body counts. There had indeed been a chemical attack. What kind, they still did not divulge or did not know. The gas cloud continued to hover over San Antonio. FEMA arrived and Davis heard the unmistakable sound of military helicopters fly overhead as the day began to move on.
Just then, his daughter texted him, “Dad, what’s going on there? People are dying in San Antonio? Campus on lockdown.”
“I’m fine, Kiddo. Stay put unless I say otherwise. Stay charged.”
“Luv U, Daddy.”
“Love you more.”
Thinking to himself, with the campus on lockdown, Leigh was pretty safe for now. There was no scenario that made sense for him to return to Bexar County tonight even if they did open the roads. And he’d already learned that public places were less than optimal for now as well. He needed to stay vigilant for Leigh’s safety and his own. That meant camping out at least for tonight, and he’d reassess in the morning based on news reports.
For the next few hours, Davis scouted out a secluded spot where he would remain out of sight of others on higher terrain so that he had a tactical advantage. By then it was nearing early evening, and Davis began setting up camp.
From a locked compartment in the back of his truck, he pulled out a nifty brown nylon item he’d received from a Box of the Month Company called BattlBox.com. Inside the sturdy nylon bag was a large one-man tent with built-in mosquitos netting. It was easy to set up and came with several alloy stakes. Except that, for the outer rain fly, he pulled out another item he’d received from BattleBox, the Speed Cinch Tent Stakes. These things were easy to really tighten down the outer rain fly securely. At times, nights in the Hill Country of Texas were windy, mosquitos would eat you alive, and the rain came unexpectedly. Davis was prepared for that.
That’s when he felt a bite on the back of his neck and slapped at mosquitos. “There’ll be none of that.” His next task was to pull out his Murphy’s Mosquitos Sticks Pack. Keeping back the mosquitos was paramount. You never knew what they carried, and there’d been too many confirmed cases of Zika transmission even in San Antonio in the past year. All Davis had to do was pull the lanyard from around his neck which held an Exotac Fire Sleeve with a Bic Lighter inside, flip off the waterproof top and held one of the four green Murphy Mosquitos Sticks at an angle under the flame for twenty seconds. Then he allowed the flame to burn for twenty seconds before he blew it out and then planted it in the ground as the smoke wisped up like incense. He repeated the procedure three more times and planted them in a perimeter around his camp. He’d always expected them to smell like repellant, but they really didn’t have a strong odor, and they were DEET free.
With the mosquitos taken care of, for now, Davis realized he was starving and had only had a few sips of coffee that morning. To stay in top form for any contingency Davis needed to eat. He pulled out a handy aluminum camp stove stored in a black net bag that he’d received in his first box from BattlBox.com. It was easy to set up, and he already had stored in the sealed fuel reservoir, a little Isopropyl alcohol. He lit the fuel with his Exotac lighter on the lanyard around his neck, and soon a blue flame glowed. He poured in the pot a cup of bottled water and it quickly came to a boil. He added a pouch of dehydrated Chili Mac with Beef from Mountain Foods which tasted pretty good in his opinion and soon he was digging into his meal with a Light My Fire Camp Spork.
With camp set up, and a meal inside him, the evening started to cool down. Davis thought it best to get a small fire going to see by. He took out his favorite item from BattlBox.com, his Gerber LMF II Knife and used the serrated side to chop up a few dry pieces of wood to the right size and then set up a fire using a chunk of a Zippo Cedar Fire Starter. This fire starter was basically a hockey puck shaped thing and came in handy for a quick ignite. In no time he had a nice fire going. If for some reason, he ran out of that, he also had on hand in a neat little aluminum tin, something called a Mini Inferno, All Weather Firestarter. It was basically an easy to store round tin filled with six little fuel infused wax, fiber coated disks. Again, you only needed a little bit and tearing off a small piece would do it. You lit the fibers, and they quickly sustained a fire long enough to get a good flame going. All of these items Davis received from BattleBox.com, and he either used them in his daily life or added them to his go bags.
While staring into the flame, Davis felt his phone buzz one more time. It was from Leigh again. The text read. “Going to sleep, Dad. Luv U!”
“Love you too, darling. Sleep well. Stay charged and be ready. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.”
After he had said his good nights and the fire was out, Davis slipped inside of his one man tent and zipped it up from the inside. Tomorrow would bring new challenges, and Davis was a Ready Man, but who knew what those trials were until they were upon you?
Note from the Author AR Shaw
This is a story based on the items I’ve received in the BattlBox.com monthly subscription. There are affiliate links to the items listed. I do receive a small payment from the affiliate links that helps to cover the cost of writing a free story for you. I hope you enjoy this ongoing tale of Davis Cole and his adventures. We’ll see what happens based on the items received in the next monthly box.
Until then, if you enjoy reading post-apocalyptic stories, please check out my books.
The Graham’s Resolution Series
Surrender the Sun
The French Wardrobe
Kindle Worlds Novellas