I am underground, along with most of the men in my extended family, when the radio call comes in. Everyone in the room stands frozen as my father listens, mostly silent, to the phone. When he hangs it up and turns to face us, there is an edge of triumph to the solemn determination on his face, but his words are short and all business. “Seven vehicles, six SUVs and a truck, traveling as a convoy and running government tags.” We jump immediately to action, years of practice and preparation preventing even the instant of stunned hesitation that would cost us precious seconds. I’m already halfway out the door by the time one of my cousins slaps the panic button and the wailing alarm blasts through the warren of rooms. I fight the urge to clap my hands over my ears, my heart in my throat despite the drills we have performed faithfully and randomly since I was a child. This is no drill, and we all know it. When I come back from the back gate at a run, my brother Freedom is waiting under the nearest door for me, and as I slip past him, panting, he jerks the door closed and slams the bolt across. I jog toward the center of the compound, listening to Freedom’s light steps behind me. I drop to a walk just outside the main room of the massive underground labyrinth that is hidden under my family’s land, and Freedom passes me. I glance automatically across the room as I enter the enormous space, to where the large digital countdown readout is clicking past 30. Dad slaps the panic button as soon as he sees me step through the door, and the readout freezes at 29. Not our best time, but not too bad, either. We only used three-quarters of our allotted time limit. Dad’s eyes turn away from me, and I scan the dozen big-screen TVs that monitor the aboveground buildings and gates on the property. There is no sign of action on the screens yet, and I look around the room instead. In the last minute and thirty seconds, our entire extended family has evacuated the aboveground property and buildings and crowded into the panic room. My mother is standing in her place beside Dad. Five uncles and four aunts are gathered near them, at the head of the room. The rest of the room is filled with my siblings and cousins, ranging in age from twenty-six year old Mason down to my six-month-old sister, Della. Dad turns to us, all business. “Move out!” We jump to motion, the women and children filing rapidly to the bunker against the south wall, and most of the men and boys of working age dropping into line passing the gun cabinets. Twenty-three year old Isaiah stands at the weaponry, handing a clean, well-maintained, loaded rifle to each man in turn. Dad and the uncles stay clustered around the monitors, but the rest of us are out of the room in thirty seconds. With the comforting, familiar weight of a semi-automatic rifle in my hands, I run with my cousins and brothers as we stream through the door and separate, two running left toward the door to the workshop, two running across to the exterior door in the storage room, and the remaining six, including me, going right, through the kitchen door. Mason and Oliver split off in the kitchen to man the exterior door there, Isaiah and my 11-year-old brother, Freedom, stop in the next room, leaving 15-year-old Declan and I to run on together along the length of the women’s workspace to the door at the end. Declan shifts his rifle to rest on one shoulder and does the routine check on the door, making sure everything is secure, and we take up our positions to either side of the door. We stand in silence, backs against the wall at semi attention, rifles held in both hands, ears attentive for any sound. For long minutes, everything is silent. Finally, the speaker system whispers to life above us and Dad’s voice comes out, quiet but clear. “Isaiah, Freedom, Declan and Jesse, approaching from the southwest. Isaiah, Shane and Wyatt are on their way to cover you. Declan, Jake and Nate are on their way to you.” Declan glances sideways at me without moving his head as he answers. “Copy that.” Isaiah echoes the words, and silence falls again for a few moments. After a couple minutes, my uncles’ heavy tread enters the workroom, and a second later, they come into view. Jake and Nate are my youngest uncles. Nate is the only one of my dad’s brothers that is not married. He is also, at 28, the youngest brother, only two years older than his oldest nephew. Jake is only two years older than Nate, but he’s married and has four kids. Hudson, his oldest son, is 5. Out of the whole family, Jake is probably the most laid-back member. He is definitely the most laid-back of the brothers. Nathaniel, on the other hand, is still as hot-headed as any of the younger generation. Right now, he’s two steps ahead of Jake, rifle held across his chest, excitement burning in his eyes. He takes his place beside me as Jake steps up beside Declan, and we stand in buzzing silence as long moments tick by. Finally, the speaker overhead crackles softly again. “Southwest corner, they’re past you. William, Gavin, Abraham, Hunter, approaching to the west. Wyatt, cover Abraham and Hunter. Jake, join William and Gavin.” Four low “copy that”s echo, and Jake nods to us, shoulders his rifle, and heads back through the room. Nate fidgets and shifts his rifle, and Declan glances away from the door and turns toward us. The speaker whispers again, and Declan snaps back to attention. “Wyatt, they’re coming in directly above you.” All falls silent for another long minute, then Dad speaks again. “Okay, they’re past you. Nate, they’ll be coming in above you in just a minute.” Nate glances up at the reinforced ceiling. “Copy that.” My eyes dart across and catch Declan glancing at me before we both turn our eyes back to the door. Nate shifts restlessly, changing his grip on his rifle, but when he stills, silence falls again. A low thump echoes from behind the door, and Declan and I, moving with the ease born of long practice, drop to one knee and train our rifles on the door. Nate sidesteps to the gap between us and mimics the action, the barrel of his rifle unwavering between Declan’s and my shoulders. Another thump reverberates dully, and I see Declan flinch ever so slightly. It’s a tribute to our training that the barrel of his rifle doesn’t move an inch. Nate shifts behind us, and my eyes flick to the barrel of his rifle, then back to the door. Soft footsteps approach behind us, and two more rifle barrels appear between Declan and I. There is no more noise for a minute, then Dad speaks over the intercom again. “They’re moving on. Looks like they’re clearing out.” Muted sighs echo around me, and I move in unison with the rest as I straighten up and shoulder my rifle. Declan glances across at me, and I see the same covert relief I’m feeling reflected in his eyes. Nate groans softly, and I know he was hoping for some real action. Shane and Wyatt, the two additional rifles that have been covering the door now across their chests, are expressionless. Wyatt glances up at the speaker. “Clear, Cody?” Dad’s voice echoes back. “Clear. Wyatt, Shane, Jake and Nate, return to the panic room.” The uncles turn without another word and head back down the room. As their footsteps fade away, Declan and I focus our attention once more on the door. We stay underground for seventy-two more hours, dropping to rotating solo guard duty after twenty-four. Dad and the uncles take shifts in the panic room, the younger four taking turns covering the kitchen and living room doors to relieve Mason and Isaiah. Freedom and Oliver, both only eleven, are too young to stand watch alone. The women and small children are allowed out of the bunker after twelve hours, and they settle into the women’s dorm, the ladies keeping the children occupied and quiet to the best of their abilities. I don’t exchange a single word with anyone for the next three days, even swapping places with Declan in silence when one of us relieves the other.