Later that evening Rick and James had found decent hiding places for 3 pistols, 2 rifles and a couple shotguns that had all been bought from private parties years ago. They had the rest of the pistols and ammo and some cash wrapped up in canvas and shoved in a tote ready for the men from the government to come. A day later they came.
A tired looking Lieutenant wearing a sidearm and a clipboard stepped out of a military Hummer at the end of the block. Behind that were 3 more Hummers and a large unmarked cargo truck. He was immediately flanked by no less than 6 battle rattle operators in stack right. They moved down the block and ignored all of the other houses on the block which James knew were empty. They zeroed in on his position as if they also knew he and Rick were the only ones left.
The tired looking soldier lifted a small megaphone that had been clipped to his belt behind him. “James Cartwright and Rick Shilling and Amy Yountz, please step outside the dwelling unarmed, we are bringing relief and supplies. Do you understand?”
Confused, James and Rick looked at each other, as if to say “How did they know?” They both shrugged. “We doing this?” James muttered. “Let’s do it,” Rick said softly. They both turned and looked at Amy. She nodded. James cracked the door. “We are unarmed and coming out,” he called loudly. “Thank you sir, we are here to help,” the soldier replied, not using the megaphone this time. James opened the door all the way and the trio stepped out slowly with hands in view. They walked onto the small front porch, down the steps and out into the small front yard.
The support operators lowered their rifles somewhat, but were expressionless and unblinking. The lead soldier who had spoken was smiling and approached the trio with an outstretched hand. “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’ve got some supplies and some tech for you three, should make things a lot easier for you going forward, how’s that sound?” He said, the cheerfulness forced and rushed, but James’ gut told him he did mean what he was saying, more or less.
“How many times have you said that today?” Rick asked. “Several. Pursuant to the federal regulations noted on this piece of paper I am required to take possession of all of your firearms and ammunition and cash, and in return I will provide you with said items at the bottom. If you require, I will read the list out to you. Do you understand what this form is saying?” Chuck asked after handing each of them a crisp and glossy flyer.
In exchange for their currency and their arms they would be each given a 25 Kg container of storable food, 25 liters of water and a cell phone. But this cell phone was special in that it had a working internet connection and a battery that didn’t need charging, only a few drops of water once a day. James figured it was some sort of fuel cell.
It would provide information and communication and entertainment, and would work only for them individually. It would be their wallet for all transactions from now on until something better could be provided.
Chuck also informed them that the local grocery stores were being remodeled and resupplied and would be operating within a week.
“How many American citizens have those guys taken out so far? You ever hear of Posse Comitatus?” Rick asked defiantly, looking at Chuck and pointing at the operators. Chuck ignored him and turned to look at James. “Mr. Cartwright, you have some items to bring out?” “Yeah, Chuck. Hold on,” James said. He walked up the steps and into the house. He picked up the large tote and brought it back out. The 6 soldiers had their rifles back up, but as soon as James was confirmed to be coming back still unarmed, they slightly lowered their rifles again.
Chuck went through the tote and unwrapped the guns and cash. He took his clipboard and looked down at it, flipped a few pages, marked a few entries with his pen, then put the clipboard back to his side and lifted his head. “And the rest? There are some weapons not here.”
Rick piped up, “What the hell are you talking about? That there is all our guns. We’re giving up our 2nd Amendment rights in exchange for food and an electronic leash! We’ve been fighting for our lives out here, trying to survive, and now you are saying we didn’t give you enough guns?”
“Mr. Shilling, are we going to have a problem here today?” Chuck asked, turning to face him. Rick made a move like he was going to take a step towards him but before he could, James reached out a hand and clapped it against his chest, holding him back. “Chuck, what Mr. Shilling is saying is, what items exactly does your list tell you that we may have accidentally forgotten to include?” James turned his head slightly and looked at the stone cold operators still stack right and motionless. They weren’t looking at James, they were looking through him.
Chuck looked down at his list and read, “Well, Mr. Cartwright, my list shows that there should also be a Smith and Wesson .45 caliber semi-auto, a Glock 9mm, a Smith and Wesson .38 special revolver, an AK semi auto rifle, a Bushmaster AR-15 semi auto rifle, and two pump action Ruger shotguns, one 12 gauge and one in 410.” Chuck looked back up at James and tilted his head to the side, expressionless. James tilted his head to the side to match and just stared.
“Where did that list come from, Chuck?” James asked after a few moments. “Above my pay grade, Mr. Cartwright. Suffice it to say, any one of my men could go in to your house there and get those firearms and be back out here in about a minute flat.”
“Look, Chuck, we’re not in a place to argue. Go ahead and get them. I’m not walking out holding actual guns. If you already knew that we were the only occupied house on the block, if you knew that Amy was staying with us, and you knew exactly what privately purchased weapons we owned, just go get them. You’ve already got us. What was it, satellites? An X-ray truck? NSA surveillance from before the crash? Remote viewing?”
Chuck looked at James for a moment and then said “Take your pick.” He lifted his hand and motioned towards the house and the rearmost soldier broke formation and jogged into the house, his kit rattling as he went. Sure enough, within a minute he returned with the firearms and added them to the pile.
“Ok, now, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Shilling and Ms Yountz, please sign here and we will get this all wrapped up for you today,” Chuck said, falling back to his script. “Shit,” Rick said, swallowing hard, as he scrawled his name on the sheet, turned and walked back into the house.
Once they had all signed the form, two of the soldiers, the one who had gone into the house and the next one in the formation, picked up the guns, counted the money, took everything to the back of the truck parked behind the Hummer, and brought back 3 large containers and 3 large jugs of water and sat them down on the ground where the guns had been. On top of each container was a sealed plastic bag about the size of a thick book, each with one of their names on the side.
As the soldiers were turning to leave, James called out. “Chuck, can I ask a question?” Chuck turned and looked at James. “Can’t promise an answer, sir,” he said politely but obviously agitated.
“Do we have a country anymore?” James asked, looking him in the eyes. Chuck stood for a moment. He looked down at his boots. He looked back up at James. Finally, he frowned deeply, shook his head slowly as he said hollowly, “Absolutely, sir, please enjoy the supplies and have a great day!” He turned quickly, walked briskly to his Hummer, got in, and the small caravan left quickly with a quintet of roaring diesels, all of it surreal against the beautiful fall leaves dotting the otherwise deathly quiet street.