A misty drizzle cascaded from the pitch-dark early night sky. Jake lay in the makeshift shelter, his index finger never straying more than a few inches from the Beretta’s trigger guard. Jake flinched tensely at hearing the sound of voices. They were female; young, sweet and heading toward him. Jake slowly got up. He emerged from the fallen spruce tree and ducked low amongst a cluster of bushes. He peered through the semiautomatic pistol’s sights. Jake got a good look at the intruders. One was the epitome of the ‘girl next door.’ The other, with messy dreadlocks, dishevelled clothing and dominant face, fit the bill as being some sort of environmentalist or a women’s rights activist. It was obvious that the pair was camping. Perhaps, like him, they’d been fortunate enough to get out of Dodge before the shit hit the fan.
As Sarah Jane and Mallory got closer, Jake confronted them. The law students froze. Standing before them waving a handgun was a ruggedly-built man with a thousand-yard stare and the ability to inflict an abundance of pain and suffering. Like Jake, Sarah Jane and Mallory were also quite distrustful of anybody they didn’t know.
“Please…” Mallory, innocent, somewhat naïve to the evil that lurked in the world, trembled frighteningly. “Don’t kill us. We mean you no harm. My friend and I were just camping. We saw all these helicopters and planes in the sky today…”
“This is what I’ve been warning you about Mal,” Sarah Jane uttered as she looked disdainfully at Jake, “Violent men and their love of guns and power.”
Considering that the federal government now had him on their official shit list, Jake continued to be very guarded. Although he could see that these two lost, scared kids were no threat to him, he didn’t want to take any chances until he learned more about them.
“Perhaps you are not aware, but Kamloops has been taken over,” Jake stated.
“Taken over?” Mallory asked.
“By North American Police and NATO or UN troops. The city is completely locked down. No one gets in or out. They went door-to-door rounding up all those citizens who are considered a threat to the regime. They kidnapped my fiancé and her daughter.”
Mallory and Sarah Jane traded looks as if they believed this dirty, wild-eyed man waving a gun in their faces was truly insane.
“This guy is nuts, Mallory.” Sarah Jane turned to Jake. “Look, I don’t know what you want. We are no threat to you. Please, just let us leave. We only have a few days until our summer internship begins. We’re second-year students at Thompson Rivers.
Jake sighed frustratingly as he lowered the Beretta.
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? If you go back into the city, you’ll either be detained or killed. If you want to survive, you’ll stay out here with me.”
“In your dreams, Sicko,” Sarah Jane, ever so feisty, shot back at him. “I can just imagine the perverted things you’d love to do to us.”
Jake looked over at Mallory.
“Is your friend always this much of a bitch?”
Mallory shrugged her shoulders.
“You can go back to Kamloops if you wish. I’m not going to stop you.”
Mallory began to feel less scared. This stranger spoke with utmost sincerity. He had probably just saved both of their lives.
“Sarah Jane, on second thought, I’m starting to think that maybe he’s right. I mean, you even questioned it yourself, all those aircraft in the sky today. If I know you, you don’t exactly love the current government in power down in Denver, Colorado.”
“You really have to believe me,” Jake said with a convincing look in his eyes.
Sarah Jane looked at Jake.
“You say you know how to survive out here. Are you ex-military or something?” Sarah Jane asked
“Spent twenty years in the air force. I can hunt, fish…survive out here for a very long time. The first thing we’re going to do tomorrow morning is find permanent shelter. Then we have to link up with other groups hiding out here in the forest.”
“What is your name?” Sarah Jane asked.
“Jake Scribner. And you?”
“Sarah Jane Pearce. This is Mallory Hutchinson. Jake, what is your fiancé’s name? I might know her.”
“You’ve heard of her?”
“I’ve read some of her stuff. Our politics are as different as night and day.” Sarah Jane took a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry I lashed out at you. You have to understand that we are scared. This is a very frightening time.”
“No offense or anything Jake, but we have to get our tent set up,” Mallory said. She shivered in the cool evening air. “Which will be no small task in the darkness.”
“As you can see, I already have a shelter set up.”
“Are you implying that my friend and I spend the night in there with you?” Sarah Jane was very leery. “Don’t get me wrong, you’re probably a nice enough guy and everything, slightly too old for me. But there is no way in hell Mallory and I are spooning with you tonight.”
“Sarah Jane, there is one hard truth that you are going to have to accept; life as we have known it is gone, perhaps permanently,” Jake said. “Fate has brought the three of us together. We’re going to have to learn to get along. Sure, the idea of getting it one with two hot young women would make most men go crazy with lust. But the fact remains that I love Nicole more than any other woman on this planet. Our sleeping arrangements tonight are only out of necessity.”
Mallory and Sarah Jane set their bags down.
“I’m going to assume that you both have cell phones on you,” Jake said. “Take the batteries out of them now.”
“Why?” Sarah Jane asked.
“It’s like this. The federal government and the NAP will be accounting for each and every city resident. They’ll take note of all who are missing. They can easily track you through your cell phone. You don’t have to destroy them. Just take the batteries out.”
Mallory reached into her jeans pocket and took out a Blackberry. Sarah Jane took her iPhone out of her backpack. Mallory showed her friend a small plastic bag.
“We can put our batteries in here,” she said to her best friend.