July 29th, 2033
I ran into more troopers yesterday.
I reached the Oak View area midmorning and hit up the residences I hadn’t already rifled through a few days earlier. This time around I concentrated on the homes bordering the western edge of the subdivision and I’m happy to say my perseverance paid off. I found another .357 Magnum and a .30-30 rifle, along with enough ammo to hold me for a while.
Another good find indeed.
After topping off my canteen with fresh water, I tucked the .357 and the ammo into my side pack and shouldered the .30-30. I backtracked for Santa Ana Road and the trail that would lead me back to camp. I suppose I shouldn’t have started counting my chickens, because, – as it’s been with most of my adventures as of late, it’s in the getting away with it where I keep running into a problem.
Case in point, Oak View – yesterday afternoon.
I was coming back down State Road 33. It was nearing one in the afternoon and the temperature was nearing one hundred degrees in the shade. The air was still and quiet, and for once my mind was a million miles away.
When suddenly, hundreds of birds resting in the trees along the road took to flight and fled the area, squawking and protesting all the way.
Something had spooked them.
I was already hugging the tree line so it didn’t take a more than a few quick strides to slip back into brush on the north side of the State Road. I lay flat on my belly in the underbrush and strained to see what was coming up the road.
A troop carrier presently rolled into view, coming up the road from the west, and judging by how I’d seen them operate in the past I figured it would pass by me in a hot minute. I inched back a little further into the brush and gathered up loose scrub and placed it in a pile in front of me to help conceal my presence.
I peered down the road and my heart sank as the alien transport came closer. Not only wasn’t it rolling solo, – it was the lead vehicle in a slow moving convoy. Instead of a few dozen troopers moving past me, I’d be up close and personal with hundreds of them.
I froze as the convoy lurched to a stop and a dozen troopers disembarked and immediately began torching the thick woods on either side of the lonely two-lane road. In a matter of minutes, the entire countryside was ablaze and I found myself trapped in the middle of a raging firestorm with all avenues of escape being cut off by curtains of flame.
I had to move. I had no choice. If I’d have stayed put any longer I would’ve been burned alive, of that I am certain.
I drew back as the convoy rolled past and the flames grew near, – narrowly slipping away from both before any damage could be done. I drifted west for another two miles until I was certain I was well ahead of the convoy and then cut north. Four hours later I was back in camp, having a cup of coffee and pouring over my new gear.
Just another day in paradise.