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Chaos Rises (Ebook)

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EMP Collapse Book Two

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Back in their neighborhood, Alex and Melissa settle in, meeting with neighbors and setting up security while trying to procure the items needed to round out their supplies.

But all is not well.

Though their street has banded together, disagreements in the wider neighborhood keep harmony at bay. And when threats from outside the neighborhood start pressing in, the fracturing inside the neighborhood may be the death of them all.

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Chapter 1

Alex

Alex arranged the firewood in the family room fireplace, then he placed a small starter brick under the logs before lighting it with a long-barrel lighter. They were almost out of starter logs, but that didn’t matter, because with how cold it was, they would need to keep a fire going constantly.

Good thing they had decided against converting the wood-burning fireplace to gas. One reason had been cost, but the other had been their concern over how they would heat their house if a big snowstorm knocked out the power for several days—something that happened from time to time along Utah’s Wasatch Front. 

Alex sat back on his heels and slowly shook his head. Who would have guessed that an EMP would be what created the need for the wood-burning fireplace? At least it was March and not the dead of winter. Even so, it had been snowing off and on all day. 

He and Melissa and Jason had gotten home from their treacherous journey less than an hour before and they had so much to do that Alex felt a little overwhelmed. But they were home and they were together. He really couldn’t ask for more than that. Not right now. The rest they would figure out as they went along.

“Alex,” Melissa said as she touched his back, “I found the camp stove.”

He smiled up at her, then got to his feet. “Good. How many propane cylinders are there?”

“Just four.”

He nodded. Each cylinder held sixteen ounces of propane. Plenty when camping. Not so much when propane was the only fuel they would be using for the foreseeable future now that their electric stove was useless. They would have to get more propane cylinders. Either that or find an alternative way of cooking their food. He did have his grill with the twenty-pound propane tank, but he would need to get an adapter hose to hook it up to his camp stove.

Deciding to make a list of the things they needed, he went into the kitchen and grabbed a notebook and pen. Lamenting that he hadn’t thought of all of these details before when it would have been easy to stock up, he wrote down propane and propane adapter hose. Then again, he was hardly a prepper, although thanks to his neighbor, Stan, and his frequent talk about preparedness, over the years Alex and Melissa had worked to build their food storage and other emergency items. Living in Utah where food storage was a thing, it had been easy to pick up number ten cans of wheat, rice, spaghetti noodles, sugar, flour, and several other staples. In addition, because of the pandemic, he and Melissa had gotten in the habit of picking up extras of non-perishable food when they did their weekly shopping. Now, in their basement, they had a decent supply of food for their family as well as six fifty-five-gallon drums of fresh water. It wouldn’t last until life returned to normal—if that ever happened—but it would give them breathing room while they figured things out. He hoped.

He turned and looked toward the fire to see how it was doing but couldn’t see it since thirteen-year-old Steven and fifteen-year-old Emily were standing in front of it, their backs to the flames. Shifting his eyes to seventeen-year-old Jason, who was stretched out on the loveseat, his injured leg elevated with his foot on the armrest and his eyes closed, Alex suppressed a frown. He couldn’t believe his son had been shot. And that was only because he’d leapt in front of Alex and Melissa. Jason was a hero.

The bullet had only created a flesh wound, and hopefully with the antibiotics he and Melissa had procured from a pharmacy on their way home, the wound wouldn’t get infected. Regardless, they needed to get him medical care. They had to do whatever they could to make sure he healed fully because Alex didn’t know what he would do if he lost his son—or any family member. 

Shaken by the idea, he forced his thoughts in a different direction. 

He turned to Melissa, who was looking through the pantry. “We should eat the food in the refrigerator first.”

“Good idea. I know there’s lunch meat and cheese.” Making a face, she added, “I’m afraid to even open the freezer. The power’s been out for twenty-four hours and I wouldn’t want to release any cold air that’s in there.”

“Let’s wait until later tonight to open the freezer, but the fridge can’t wait.”

“Sounds good.” She put her hand on the door to the fridge, then smiled. “Here goes nothing.” She opened the door, leaned forward, then straightened and turned to Alex with a frown. “It’s barely cold. I’ll empty it out and we’ll eat whatever we can.” Looking thoughtful, she added, “Maybe we should have a big neighborhood party and cook all the perishable food everyone has.”

Softly chuckling, Alex said, “That’s not a bad idea. We can suggest it at the meeting. Which…,” he looked at the wind-up watch he’d dug out of his dresser, “starts in less than two hours.” Running through a mental list of all the things he needed to do, he closed his eyes as he massaged his temples. He opened them and shifted his attention to the large window that overlooked the backyard, and when he saw snowflakes floating down, he swiveled toward the family room. “Steven, Emily, move as much firewood into the garage as you can. Then we won’t have to go out into the snow and cold to get more.” 

Normally, whatever firewood they had on the hearth was enough, because normally when they had a fire it was just for fun. Before the EMP, they’d had the furnace, which ran on natural gas, to keep the house warm. “We’ll eat something when you’re done. And then we need to do an inventory of our food.”

“Okay, Dad,” Steven said. He and Emily went out the door that led from the kitchen into the garage. The garage had a door that went into the backyard where the wood was stored.

Alex walked over to Jason and knelt beside him. “How are you doing, son?”

Jason’s eyes fluttered open. He stretched his arms above his head. “Okay, I guess. I’m just glad we’re done walking.”

Chuckling, Alex said, “You and me both.” They had done a lot of walking, and at times, with people shooting at them, it had been extremely treacherous. “I’ll ask at the meeting if there’s someone with medical expertise to come over and take a look at your wound.”

“Okay.”

Melissa knelt beside Alex, her focus on their son. “You already had one antibiotic, so if you take another tonight, and then two a day for, I guess ten days? I think that would be right.”

Alex put his hand on her leg and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Hopefully we can find someone who knows for sure.”

She turned to him with a small smile. “I don’t think there are any doctors in our neighborhood, but there’s got to be a nurse or two.”

“Yeah.” He didn’t want to point out that even if there was, that didn’t mean they’d made it home.

* * *

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