Chapter Nine: Blood In The Snow

The first snow fell on October 20th. Of course, it had to happen when Larry had roadblock duty. The wind was picking up and reduced visibilty. It would be worse when Larry took his second shift of the day at night. The only good thing was that the shifts were reduced from 4 to 3 hours with the addition of more troops.

Al and Larry shivered by the gate on the south end of the bridge on M-53. Two new recruits, both who had been refugees two months ago, had the duty down the road. One new improvement was an hard-wired intercom that connected all posts.

"Don't you just love this weather?", asked Al. "Makes me enjoy guard duty so much more." "Yeah," answered Larry, "I found a home in the militia. Soon as this shift is over, let's check the horses." Al smiled, "Oh yeah? Brought some of that apple-jack?" "Yep,", Larry winked, "aged a solid week." "Sounds good to me.", replied Al.

The quiet was then shattered with a pair of screams from the forward post. Larry and Al squatted behind the drums and peered through the snow. They saw several white-clad figures standing over the bodies of their comrades. Larry hit the panic button, sounding the alarm. Al drew a bead on one figure with his Remington 700. Many a deer had been fallen by this weapon, but now, Al shot his first human.

Larry saw the figure go down, then fired a series of rapid shots with his Garand. He thought he saw one go down, but couldn't be sure if he connected. The aggressors had taken cover behind the drums. A dozen fellow militiamen rushed to their position. Kevin Harper and Deputy Tom Davis scampered towards the bridge while the rest split up for the two earthworks. Over the intercom, Harper called Larry and Al.

"What'ya see?", Harper barked. "Maybe a half dozen dressed in white ponchos at the forward post. We have two men down, probably dead. One badguy down, maybe two." Larry waited after making his report. There was nothing happening. The silence was eerie and nerve racking. Al and Larry's heart's were racing. On the northside of the bridge, Harper worked his handheld 2-meter radio, reporting to HCM headquarters. Deputy Davis went for his bullhorn.

"Man, we gotta get out of here!", said Al. "You got that right, buddy.", replied Larry. He took a fresh clip out of his bandolier and placed it at a handy spot next to him. Larry figured he had maybe two or three rounds to go before the Garand was empty. The badguys were lying low and still had not returned fire. Larry was wondering if they had any guns. They may have jumped the forward team and used knives. The badguys now, at the least had the look-out's weapons and ammo.

The waiting ended when Deputy Davis called out with his bullhorn. "This is the Huron County Militia. You people are ordered to surrender now. Lay down your weapons and stand up with your arms over your heads. And take off those white ponchos!" Harper then came on the intercom. "Larry, Al, we're coming up." Al kept looking forward, while Larry acknowledged and turn to watch Harper, Davis, and two others sprint across the bridge towards them.

The badguys started shooting. Larry watched as his comrades ducked behind the drums at the mid-point of the bridge, some twenty yards behind them. Al cracked off two shots, causing one badguy he could make out to hide behind a drum. Larry now looked forward and emptied his rifle at them. He quickly reloaded. By now, silence returned. Everything was going in slow motion.

With the deputy and another covering, Harper and another crawled forward to the south end of the bridge. "Glad you could make it.", Larry said. Harper ignored the remark and issued orders. "Okay, we're gonna open fire so the others can make it up here. Get ready. Now!" All four men then began firing. Al only got off two shots before being forced to reload. Larry emptied his weapon. Harper and the other militiaman both had AR-15s with 30 round clips. They fired a series of burts.

Things got crowded behind the drums at the south gate. Neither Larry nor Al minded. Everyone reloaded and Harper spelled out the plan. "We're gonna flush them out. When the rest of you open up, Larry and I will slip down the drainage ditch on the right. We'll make our way forward and force them to the left."

Larry wasn't keen on the whole idea. But he nodded and made himself ready. With a hail of gunfire pinning the badguys down, Larry and Kevin crawled around the drums and slid down the ditch on the right. The snow made it easy. So far, so good. Kevin took the lead, with Larry about three yards behind. As their friends reloaded, the badguys returned fire. It sounded like only two guns, which made Larry suspect that this bunch was using the captured arms. Neither of the recruits had pistols. Both had been outfitted with old mausers.

As the two militiamen approached the first set of drums, some twenty yards from the bridge, Kevin motioned Larry to get behind them. The next set was on the left side of the road ten yards away. Kevin explained that he was going to move up the ditch another twenty yards to to next set on the right. About half way there, he'd let loose a gernade, then charge forward. When he would fire his rifle, Larry would then move up to the drums on the right.

Kevin radioed to the others to get ready. He then slipped back down the ditch when the deputy and his team began firing. Larry hunkered down, now more afraid of being hit from the rear than by the badguys. He postioned himself half in the ditch and half behind the drum, rifle aimed to the south. He watched Kevin crawl forward, then stop short of the next drums.

The gernade was well thrown. It dropped about two or three yards south of the next row of drums. When it exploded, Kevin scampered out of the ditch and crouched behind the drums. He then began firing his rifle. As Larry darted forward, he saw two men in white dash away. Large red blotches quickly appeared on their clothing. They tumbled and fell. Kevin ducked to reload and Larry now rested his rifle on the top of a drum and searched for targets.

He saw their two fallen comrades sprawled out in pools of blood, clearly visible in the snow. One of the men Kevin had hit started to move. Larry pumped two rounds into him. One of the mausers was now visible. That left one unaccounted for. Larry now fixed his gaze on the row of drums to the left, a mere ten yards away. A person popped up with the other mauser. Larry fired three shots. He watched as one round took the top of the man's skull off.

Kevin saw this, now reloaded and ready. He unpinned another gernade and tossed it behind the last set of drums. After it exploded, he rushed forward. There was some groans, but they fell silent as Kevin popped off two aimed bursts. He then turned back and waved. Larry advanced and saw the bodies close up. A groan came from the ditch on the left. As Larry and Kevin approached it, they saw another badguy, wounded.

"Don't shoot! I give up!", he cried out. Deputy Davis and the others were now on the scene. He searched the last survivor, who had been shot by Larry at the very beginning. Davis interrogated him and learned that he and his five partners had escaped a refugee camp before dawn, some twenty miles away. Their white ponchos turned out to be bedsheets from their cots. Armed only with splivs fashioned from spoons, their plan was to head north where they heard there were fewer people and more food.

Davis sent men back to the house for his evidence kit, with which he photographed and fingerprinted each of the badguys. Using the 2-meter radio, he contacted headquarters. Jenkins instructed Davis to "finish the job". Davis looked uncomfortable with that. Harper stepped forward and fired one round into the man's head. "He killed our own.", was all Harper said to Davis as he walked away. Davis never worked roadblock duty again.

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The material you have just read is a chapter in the on-line fictional story, "When Autumn Leaves Fall" by Andrew Zarowny, copyrighted 1997. All characters and circumstances are fictional and are not intended to bare any resemblence to actual people alive or dead. You have the author's permission to copy or reproduce this material so long as you charge no money for it's reproduction or distribution.