SurvivalBlog reader L.C. recently asked me: “What’s your novel “Patriots” like? Is it like the Jerry Ahern [“The Survivalist”] books?” My novel “Patriots” is hard to describe. It is a fast-paced novel, but it is not at all like Jerry Ahern’s novels. I did my best to weave a lot of practical and tactical information into the storyline. To illustrate, here is an excerpt from one of the later chapters in the novel (titled “Radio Ranch”) that shows the style:
Edgar Rhodes had just turned 72 when the Crunch hit. He had lost his wife two years earlier, to cancer. His only son, an electrical engineer, had moved his family to Brazil a decade earlier. Edgar was alone at the ranch. The sign by the front door read “Radio Ranch”, and the place certainly lived up to its moniker. He had selected the property 40 years earlier, specifically because of its favorable ridge
top siting. The ranch parcel was 35 land-locked acres. His road transited deeded right-of-ways through two neighboring properties to get out to the county road. Edgar liked the privacy. The ranch had plentiful water—a big spring near the bottom of the property—but not much else. There were no trees and there was not much topsoil. Rocks poked through the surface of the soil throughout the property. But Edgar liked his ridge top. He said that it gave him “line of sight to the world.” Eventually, five antenna masts were scattered around the house.
The largest was his “moon bounce”, perched atop a 60 foot tower. There were also dipole and sloper antennas stretched as far as 88 yards from the house, in several directions.
Edgar used a pair of hydraulic rams to lift the water to the house. They were very inefficient, but reliable. The 25 gallons a minute at the spring yielded only 5 gallons a minute at the house.
o o o
Thirteen months after the Federals invaded the Palouse Hills region, Edgar was the recipient of a package that he hadn’t expected. A knock on his door at 11 p.m. woke him from a sound sleep. Edgar put on his robe and slippers and picked up his Belgian Browning 12 gauge shotgun. He was about to snap on the 24 VDC porchlight, when he heard a muffled but familiar voice through the door:
“Edgar, it’s me, Vern. Leave the light off! I need to ask you a favor! You’ve got to hide this package.” Edgar drew back the heavy bars that he had built for the top, middle, and bottom of the door. He opened the door warily, and asked, “What’s so important you have to come here in the middle of the night?” He could see his neighbor in the dim moonlight. There was a woman with him. They were silent. Edgar motioned inward with his hand, and said, “Well, come on in.”
Vern and the woman crept in, groping in the dark front hall. After Edgar had re-bolted the door, he lit a big “triple wick” candle and carried it to the kitchen. Vern and the unfamiliar woman followed him. They sat around the table, with the candle between them, lighting their faces. It was then that Edgar could see that the woman was emaciated. She appeared to be around 60 year old, with graying hair. Her eyes were sunken, and the skin around her jaw seemed taut. She also looked frightened. She kept glancing at Vern. Vern spoke in a jumble: “I’ve just gotta ask your help. This is Maggie. She
escaped from the Federal camp down at Gowen Field, three weeks ago. Folks have been shuttlin’ her north, here into rebel-controlled land. I can’t keep her.
I can barely feed my own family. I figured that since you were alone, and that because you eat good, that, well, you know . . .”
Edgar raised his hand to signal Vern to stop his chatter, and then asked, “Can you cook, Maggie?”
“ Can you mend clothes?”
She nodded again.
“Do you know how to shoot?”
She nodded again.
“Can you speak, Maggie?”
She laughed, and answered, “Of course I can speak!”
“How old are you?”
“How is your strength? You look something terrible thin.”
“I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I still have my strength. Will you hide me here?”
Without a pause, Edgar answered assuredly, “Certainly, ma’am. Nobody bothers me here. The Federals have never noticed me. Even if they did, they’d think I was an eccentric old hermit. Come to think of it, I am an eccentric old hermit. I suppose some day they’ll come looking, to confiscate my radios. But in the mean time, since I’m so far off the county road, nobody is going to notice that there’s somebody else living here.” Maggie beamed and said quietly, “God bless you.”
Vern stood up and made his good-byes, thanking Edgar Rhodes repeatedly, and giving Maggie a hug. As Edgar shook his hand, Vern said, “Now you take good care of this little gal, Edgar.” He turned and disappeared into the darkness. Edgar made Maggie a batch of scrambled eggs before bed. He apologized for not having any coffee or tea. As he walked her down the hall to the guest
bedroom, he said, “You can tell me all about your adventures in the morning.”
The next morning, Edgar went looking on the front porch, where he expected to find Maggie’s luggage. There was none. She had only the clothes on her back.
They consisted of a long and tattered gray dress, a pair of filthy tennis shoes with no socks, and an over-sized man’s forest green trench coat.
Over a breakfast of eggs, flat bread and honey, and slices of cheese, Maggie told her story: “We lived in Payette. My husband had died five years before the stock market crash, so I went to live with my daughter and her family. Three weeks after the troops and the UN administrators arrived, they came for our whole family: My daughter, my son-in-law, their two children, and me. Both my daughter Julie and my son in-law Mark were with the resistance. They were trying to organize groups in the neighborhood for sabotage. One of our neighbors must have informed on us.”
“They surrounded the house at 6 o’clock in the morning. Must have been 40 of them. They said that they’d burn us out if we didn’t come out with our hands up. They dragged Julie and Mark away in handcuffs. They took Mark’s guns and CB radio as “evidence.” They gave me, and the children just five minutes to pack a few clothes, while they stood there with Kalashnikovs pointed at us.
Then they searched me again, and they took everything that I had packed in the suitcases and the duffle-bag and scattered it across the yard, looking for
“contraband.” They laughed and kicked me while I was picking it all back up and trying to re-pack it.”
“When Mark shouted at them, the soldiers threatened to kill him. Finally, after I had most of the clothes picked up, they threw the bags up into the back of a big canvas-topped army truck, and handcuffed me next to Julie and Mark. They even handcuffed the kids. We were all connected to a big heavy chain—it looked like a big boat anchor chain, running lengthwise down the middle of the
truck bed. It was welded down at both ends.”
“They stopped and picked up another family later the same day, the Weinsteins. By the time they had them loaded in the truck, Mrs. Weinstein was having a nervous breakdown. To her, it was the Holocaust all over again. They had lost great grandparents and several great aunts and great uncles in the Nazi years in Germany. Seeing it happen all over again was just too much for her.”
“We were nearly 15 hours in that truck, without a drop of water. They only stopped once to let us relieve ourselves, and we had to do that in full view of everyone. They did what they called “double locking” the handcuffs, so that they wouldn’t tighten up, but even still they left horrible red marks. Poor Mark lost some of the circulation in his left hand, but the guards wouldn’t do anything about it. When they finally took the cuffs off of him, his hand was all puffed up. He must have had permanent nerve damage in that hand.”
” Gowen was a horrible place. We were put in a barracks with eleven other families. There were 59 of us in that barracks, at first. We had one large pot, and we had to do all of our cooking in that, as best we could. There was a weekly ration of spuds. And once in a while, there would be some beans, or bread, or wheat. But there was never enough. Once in a blue moon we’d get some rotten
lettuce or cabbage.”
“We never got a trial. There was never even any mention of it. And when we asked about appealing our confinement, or asked when we would be released, they just laughed at us. Most of the adults were expected to work. Some of it was just make-work. Others worked in the sweatshops. At Gowen, the big industry was boots. Julie was one of the boot makers. She worked 11 hours a day, with 15 minutes for lunch. If she didn’t do her quota of stitching, she was beaten.”
“They came most every day, to take away one or two people for interrogation. It was usually the men. They came back, usually a day or two later, looking ghastly. Sometimes they couldn’t walk. They were usually bleeding. Sometimes they were bleeding out of the rectum from being kicked so much. They often talked about the torture: beatings, whippings, electric cattle prods. Oh, and the bruises, so many bruises! I thank the Lord that I never got picked up for interrogation. I don’t think that I could have survived it.”
“ After three weeks, they came for Mark. He fought them. He hit one of the Belgian soldiers square in the nose, and I think he broke it. His nose bled like a headless chicken. They started beating Mark even before they drove off with him. They never brought Mark back. We were sure they must have killed him.”
“They let some of us older women go out to gather firewood, between the inner and outer fence. The inner fence was new, and had that dreadful razor wire. The outer fence was old. I found a gap where the chain link had parted at the base of a post. I pulled it up and squeezed through. I knew that if they spotted me outside the second fence that they’d shoot me down. But by then, I didn’t care.
I just wanted out of there. Julie had often told me, “Mom, if you ever have the chance to go, then go!” She said that I shouldn’t worry about her and the kids.
So I went without regrets.”
“I walked for three days, drinking out of stock ponds before somebody found me. Seven families helped hide me and move me along, by car, by wagon, and on horseback. All those families were a wonderful blessing. And now I’m here.”
Edgar asked, “Do you have any family, other than your daughter and her kids?”
“Then you are welcome to stay here, indefinitely.”
A week after she arrived, Edgar took Maggie as his common law wife.
Five weeks after Maggie’s arrival, Edgar unknowingly brought a bug back with him when shopping at the monthly Moscow barter market. He soon got over it, but when Maggie got the flu, she quickly grew dehydrated and weak. She died while Edgar was sleeping.
Edgar was convinced that if it were not for her malnourishment at the Gowen camp that Maggie would have recovered from the flu. Cancer had robbed him of his first wife, and now the Federals had robbed him of his second. He never forgave the Federals for that. Before he met Maggie, he had no desire to join the resistance. He sided with them, but did nothing to actively help. But when Maggie unexpectedly came into his life and then so unexpectedly left, it changed him. The day after he buried Maggie, Edgar started packing.
o o o
Soon after joining the resistance, Edgar was put in charge of the fledgling Signals Intelligence Section. He had had communications intelligence (Comint) experience many years before with the Naval Security Group. He had been stationed at Skaggs Island, at the north end of the San Francisco Bay. He soon put that experience to good use. Their well-camouflaged intercept site tents were
generally set up on low hills, usually within 20 miles of Moscow. They had already been operating for nearly a year, on a makeshift basis, using just a couple of Uniden multi-band scanners. When he joined, Edgar brought with him a wealth of Comint knowledge, organizational skills, and lots of additional equipment. This included Drake and Icom shortwave receivers, two additional scanners, a pair of “Gunnplexer” microwave transceivers, a spectrum analyzer, three cassette tape recorders, and several custom-made antennas. Edgar transformed the amateurish section into a professional unit of Comint specialists.
Edgar was a half-century older than most of the men and women in his section. They treated him like their adoptive grandfather. He was a self-professed “crotchety old man”, and they loved it. During some quiet times, he entertained them with old ditties that he played on his ukulele. He sang 1940s pop songs like “They Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil” and “Three Little Fishies.” The
young resistance fighters loved them.
The section got their most prized piece of equipment from the Keane Team, the winter after Edgar took over. It was a Watkins-Johnson AN/PRD-11 VHF man-portable intercept and direction finding set. It had been captured from the Federals, complete with an H-Adcock antenna array. Using microprocessor generated time-of arrival calculations with the H-Adcock antenna, the PRD-11 could provide lines of bearing on VHF signals, on a three digit display. The “WJ” could also do intercept (without DF) of HF signals. With the single WJ, they could only produce individual lines of bearing, but even this was a valuable for building an intelligence picture of the battlefield. The original sealed batteries for the PRD-11 were soon expended, but the resourceful crew at the intercept site provided the correct voltage for the system using car batteries. All of the other equipment at the site was similarly powered by car batteries, all of which were laboriously carried to the site, and back down to town for re-charging.
Eventually, there were six men and two women on the intercept team. They manned three round-the-clock intercept-shifts, with two intercept operators per eight-hour shift or “trick.” The “day trick” also had two extra staff members. The first was a Battlefield Integrator/Briefer who plotted “best estimate” enemy unit locations on an acetate-covered map board. The other was a Traffic Analyst
or “TA”, who reconstructed the enemy networks by analyzing the pattern of traffic. The TA’s most important time of the day came during the network roll calls that were conducted by the Federal and UN units each morning. Assisting the operational team were a full-time cook, three security men, two teenage message runners, and five “sherpas” who hauled food, water, and batteries to the site. Most of the sherpas had captured Alice pack frames with cargo shelves, a few had less comfortable 1950s-vintage army pack boards. All but one sherpa spent their nights with their families in town.