Escape from Tucson: Day 17 – Friday
I’ve got a real problem on my hands…roadblock. But this is no ordinary roadblock. Well, is anything “ordinary” anymore? But, this is bad, really bad. I got to this hill/mountain that isn’t named on my map but the railroad track siding is called Vanar. I climbed up about to about a quarter of the way below the ridge. I didn’t want to skyline myself by going all the way to the ridge. I had to be able to observe what was happening in the pass where the tracks and the interstate pass through (Steins Pass). I have been concerned about it for days before I got here. It is a perfect and natural “pinch point” for all east/west travel in this part of the country. And it is a mess!
I could hardly believe what I was seeing when I got settled in and started watching. First off there is a gasoline tanker truck pulled across each lane of interstate travel; one on the east-bound side, same on the west-bound lanes. And then parked up against each one of those is a large box trailer semi-truck. At first I simply couldn’t understand why the trucks were there. Then logic gave me a “duh!’ moment. The trucks are there to keep motorized traffic from entering the pass, the gasoline trucks are a natural choice. You try to ram them and they explode in the face of the rammer. If you shoot them and start them on fire you still have a blocked road. The other box truck wedged up against the gasoline tanker truck is probably just there to make it harder to push through.
But here is the question I have…”Are they really expecting any motorized traffic?” and then the natural follow-up question for me would be, “Why go to all that effort to stop whatever motorized traffic there is?” Actually, “Is there any motorized traffic anymore anywhere?” Sorry for all the questions, this junk is floating around in my head.
So the roadblock is my first Red Flag. It was then I realized that there had been no cars or trucks alongside the road for maybe three to four miles before the roadblock. I just can’t imagine that magically there wouldn’t be any vehicles for miles and then a freaking parking lot at the pass. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. I am thinking that somehow someone was able to move all those vehicles to the pass area. But, if the EMP disables vehicles how did they move the dead cars and trucks that far?
Next thing I realized…there are a whole lot of people in the pass area, I mean a bunch. I am thinking maybe hundreds. So I am laying there watching what is happening, it appears to be a small well-organized community. Things looked very orderly and well-run. There were some semi-truck trailers opened that were obviously full of food and appeared to be points where people were issued that food. Then there were other trailers with other items, I couldn’t tell what they were. People would occasionally get something out of those trailers as well but nobody guarding them. Then there were the two semi-trailers…beer trucks. There were guards posted on those trucks, no one being issued anything from those trucks from what I could tell.
Just as it was getting full dark a bunch of campfires started showing up with people congregating around them. It’s not cold by any stretch of the imagination so it must have been simply a place for people to gather together. One area off to the side appeared to be a cooking area. I am only guessing but from what I could tell there appeared to be two cow carcasses hanging off a pole strung between two trucks. It wasn’t long before they were on the cooking fires. I am glad the wind was coming out of the southwest and blowing the smell away from me. A steak on a campfire just sounds really, really tempting right about now.
I was starting to think this was a pretty decent little set-up, people taking care of each other, using the resources at their disposal, feeding each other, protecting themselves, and trying to form some kind of civilization by working together. But, it didn’t take long for reality to set it…that picturesque setting was crushed in a heartbeat.
When it appeared that it was time to eat, another truck trailer was opened and out comes small people. I mean small in stature, maybe children, I couldn’t tell. After stopping at a trailer they went to where the beef was cooking. I can’t be 100% sure but it looked to me that they were picking up serving stuff like in a restaurant, then they began to serve folks a meal. They went to this group of men first. And I can tell you that these were the guys in-charge, they were alpha males, every one of them. It was that easy to spot even from a distance, their body language said everything. I couldn’t really make out any facial features at all. I could only make out the body language due to the light coming from the various cooking and camp fires. But these were the bosses…no doubt about that.
My assessment at that point went from admiration to caution, not quite fear, at least not yet. You don’t get a bunch of alphas ruling an area without a cost. And it didn’t take time to get an idea of what the cost was.
About this time, I am guessing around midnight, I heard something below me on the hill. Beans heard it as well. Up to that point Beans had just been curled up about five feet away sleeping the whole time…dead asleep. Yeah, nice I didn’t have anyone watching my back. Way to go Beans! But, she heard the sound too, came instantly to her feet, and began scanning the area where the sound came from. I couldn’t see anything but I am sure Beans did, she locked on to this one area and stared hard. Then another sound. To me it sounded as if someone was walking, trying to be careful, but not doing a very good job of it. Beans did a very low growl from deep in her chest. If I had been another couple of feet away from her I probably wouldn’t have heard it. She was telling me there was danger. I am so grateful for Beans. The growl was menacing…pure mean.
I stayed perfectly still trying really hard not to be heard or seen. Sure I had my 9mm Shield in my hand and could finally defend myself, but I didn’t want to get into a gunfight right there. I figured if I did I would have dozens of men, maybe more, all over this mountain looking for me. I don’t have that many bullets.
Beans laid down, flattened out actually, I did pretty much the same thing. I could hear an occasional rock movement as the person moved away. And of course here comes the moon. Not a full moon, but the moon started to rise and it was light enough to be able to see fairly well. I have been blessed with very good night vision all my life, it was a great asset last night. I actually could see a form moving where the sounds were coming from. I couldn’t really make out the shape of a person, but I could see a form. Then more noise but not from the form.
The noise wasn’t coming from that person it was coming from off to my right, I guess that would be to the north of me. And it became obvious pretty quickly that there was more than one person making all that new noise. I am guessing more like four or five people. In a few minutes I could hear them talking. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but I could hear their sound as it drifted up the mountain to me. They were moving pretty fast, way faster than the first person. Being the brainiac that I am, I determined that they were pursuing the first person. And this second group had long guns, the first person that went by wasn’t carrying anything from what I could tell.
About fifteen minutes later I hear a couple of shots, a woman’s scream, another shot, and then laughter. They got really loud as they talked but I still couldn’t hear what they were saying. It didn’t matter actually, what difference could it make? I knew what was happening, what had happened.
What did make a difference was the direction they headed…they headed back to the pass towards the group of people. I lost sight of them until I noticed six people walk up to the pass to what must be an entrance point. They were allowed in and I could swear there was back-slapping and high-fiving taking place. And then I wanted to throw up. They were celebrating the kill but it was worse than that. Earlier I had noticed the balls, size of basketballs, on sticks placed around this entrance point earlier, but hadn’t paid it much attention to them. Now I realized they weren’t basketballs at all. The returning men walked over and picked up a stick, maybe a chain link fence post, and stuck what they were carrying on the end of the stick/pole and shoved it in the ground. One of the entrance guards had a working flashlight that was really bright and he shined it on the newly placed pole. It was a human head, a women’s head…still dripping blood. So they have working flashlights too!
Oh boy…what is this all about? I turned away and saw Beans curled up sound asleep again. I did the same. I slept until dawn. What else could I do? As I was falling asleep I kept wondering how he had a working flashlight.
As the sun was coming up I just made sure I was nestled up in my little rock hiding spot, well below the mountain’s ridge, and pretty much invisible from anyone below. From above you would have to be in one exact spot and then be looking directly at me before you would see me. I started looking at my atlas. I had to figure out an alternative to transiting Steins Pass. Trying to walk through their little community would be a death sentence…or maybe worse.
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