Awesome job, Oreo! I wish my writing was like yours when you're not feeling "too creative."
Harry was unhappy. Very
unhappy. What's Grampaw thinkin'?
he thought to himself. That Gunner guy is a total outsider! I'll get 'im kicked out or my name ain't Harry Robertson.
At the main Robertson headquarters the next day...
James, Gunner, and Will were out inspecting buildings that used to belong to the Randalls. They were by themselves, but all three had their guns, and the few remaining Randalls had fled anyway. Their jackbooted feet made crunching noises on the filthy, pot-holed pre-War paved road. Most of the buildings looked like a sumo-wrestler-sized projectiles had rammed into the foundations. Many buildings were gone entirely. There were a few that the Randalls tried to keep up, but you could only do so much. One building was once an old hardware store, another, a general store. People had once driven there and walked there. People had worked there. In some, they had gathered around radios, listening to FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech. At others, they had listened to reporters tell the nation about the Nazi-China War, when Himmler marched into Beijing and executed Chairman Mao. Finally, they had listened to terrified news people report that the Nazis had the Bomb and had nuked Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Ontario. All this flooded into James mind so fast that he almost did not notice a colorful box sitting in the window of some old building. He motioned for the other men to stop. He put his foot on one of the building's porch stairs to check its stability. It seemed safe enough. He walked up to the window and used his gloved hand to wipe away the dirt. Jenson's Malt Shop.
He examined the heavy glass door. One prompt kick sent it flying off its hinges.
"Anyone here? Hello?" He checked his weapon and looked around the shop. Overturned stools sat on the dusty, black-and-white tiled floors, movie posters still in their frames decorated the walls. He wiped away the dust on one. It screamed in once bright letters "Jailhouse Rock starring Elvis Presley!" Another read "Ben-Hur." Under that title, it said "Winner of 11 Academy Awards including Best Motion Picture of 1959!"
It gave James the shivers. 1959 was the last year of American Freedom. He wiped away the rest of the dust on it. It showed a man on a chariot surrounded by Romans. Slowly, he took his eyes off it and went behind a large bar that the stools were in front of. There was a large white metal container. Curiosity getting the better of him, he opened it.
"Ah! Gadzooks! That's the worst thing I've ever seen!" he cried, putting his hand over his mouth and nose. Hearing him shout, the other two men raced into the building. James pointed to the container.
Gunner laughed hysterically. "That's an old freezer. Looks like someone forgot to take the 60's ice cream out. Pretty revolting, ain't it?"
"Revolting" was not the word for it. Abominable was closer, but still not quite. The "ice cream" looked like a mixture of cow manure and all the scum in the oceans. Gunner pulled three gas masks out of his pack and passed them out. He got closer to the freezer and grabbed a nearby stick. He poked it into the filth. "This can be cleaned."
James was ready to throw up. "Agh. You can't be serious, man! That freezer is like something from a horror movie!"
Gunner stooped down next to it and examined the back. "Rat damage. Wire's chewed to bits. Wouldn't trust it, anyway." He pulled out a pocket knife and cut the rusty back off. "Eh, don't look at this guys. It's pretty... disgusting. Some dead rats." He pulled them out and tossed them out of sight. "Help me get this freezer outside." The men were horrified even being close to it, but, since Gunner closed the lid, they did as they were asked. They grunted and sweated, but they got it out on the street.
Will raised an eyebrow under his gas mask and said in a mournful tone, "Why do you want this piece of junk. It makes me wanna puke, it does."
Gunner laughed once again, "If I clean this baby out, replace the wires, and hook it up to a generator, we can freeze food."
James and Will were shocked. "What?" they asked unanimously.
Gunner nodded. "Yep, kill a deer, hack it up, stick it in this, and save it for later. Have someone pick this up and bring it to the gas station garage."
James nodded, "Will-do. At least I
don't have to mess with it. Hey, let's see if we can find anything else we want." They reentered the malt shop and James went straight to the brightly-colored box near the window that he had spotted earlier.
"No way..." he murmured. "Guys, it's a jukebox! A real jukebox! And it doesn't have rotting desert in it, either!" The three men instantly knew they wanted it.
Gunner knelt down again and inspected it. "Yeah, we're takin' this. It still has records in it."
"No way..." James said again. He dusted off the the top so he could read the song names. "Lots of Elvis! The Krauts shot that guy in '62! If the Germs hated him, I gotta listen to him!" The men toted the machine out and sat it next to the freezer. Back in they went, looking for other items.
Gunner spotted a huge metal door in the right wall. He sauntered up to it and read the fading, painted-on letters. Employees Only.
"Hah, I'm going in anyway." He struggled with the door knob until the handle snapped and the door creaked open. Inside were lots of boxes. Large boxes. He took out a small crowbar from his pack and pried the lid off a crate. "Holy cow... There's all kinds of stuff in here!" He was right. Inside the box were lots of undamaged drinking glasses and bowls. "There's even some silverware in here... this is great!" He started hacking apart other crates finding equally useful items. When he pried off the lid of another box, to his great surprise, there was nothing but a nail in at the bottom. "Wait a minute..." He pulled on the nail, and the bottom of the crate opened up. "Classic. Now, what's down there?" He called the other two men into the room. Will handed him one of his pump flashlights. Shining the light down, they realized the floor was only a couple feet down.
"I'm goin' in," said James. Before they could stop him, he leaped over the edge of the crate and hit the ground below. "I'm fine. I'm gonna check this out..." He shined his own flashlight in front of him. "Well, well, well!"
"What?!" hollered Will, biting his lip nervously.
A few seconds later, James called back an answer, "Looks like 'Mr. Jenson' was involved with more than malts and root beers! There's a stash down here. Helmets, M-14's, ammo, a couple ratty USA flags hanging on the walls, even a couple boxes of assorted goods. Why didn't the Randalls use this stuff?"
Gunner smiled, "Probably just thought this building was just filled with crap. Don't blame 'em. That freezer would've kept anyone away! Hey, Will, get down 'ere an' help bring up the goods."
Will did a small salute, "Right ya are. Alley-oop!" He jumped down and formed a chain gang with the other two men to pass up the gear. Steel helmets, some painted, others not, M-14 rifles from the time of the invasion, belts, metal ration containers, and other useful items.
Gunner grinned and tossed them into a crate. "This'll help the Robertson family, ya can bet your bottom dollar on that!"
Two days later...
"Alo right la-o!
lefty right-a la-o!"
"Alooo right la-oo!
left right la-o!"
"Lo right-a left right
lefty right a lo!"
The progress Gunner had made training the men was miraculous. The Robertson "infantry" now uniformly sported pre-War steel helmets, belts, packs, M-14's, and even had a colour guardsman who carried the Robertson coat-of-arms banner on a hook on his backpack. The "Old Guard," the oldest men in the family, who carried the shotguns and had the best experience, were a separate unit of 10 men. The "heavy infantry" sported large machine guns. They had special armor made by hand and one of their men was given for every 8 infantrymen.
Gunner and James, now sporting tan rag-tag uniforms the men's wives had created, paced in front of the men. Gunner put his arms behind his back and faced them. "Men! You've done right good. Y'ain't real soldiers with just a few days of trainin', but you're getting there. Today, one of our scouts reported spotting the Randalls from Shenandoah comin' this way. We're goin' inta battle, guys. When we see those lousy bums, what are we gonna do?"
The men roared with one voice, "Send them to rot in Hell, where devils like them belong, sir! Ooh-rah!"
Gunner clapped, "Very good, men! What's our creed?!"
"Always faithful, sir! Like the US Marine Corps before us, we will lay down our lives for our cause, sir! Ooh-rah!"
Gunner saluted stiffly, "That's right! Now, men, we ain't gonna let them bring that Stuart tank o' theirs into the Village! We're gonna meet them on the field of combat! We're gonna take 'em down. You're gonna use the tactics you've learned to mow 'em down. I, Field Marshal Gunner Patterson, General James Robertson, and General Harry Robertson are gonna lead ya'll to war."
The men held up their rifles and chanted, "Robertson! Robertson! Robertson! Robertson! Robertson!"
James went into a rigid military stance, "Plaaaatoon! 'Orward, march!" He held a home-made machete like a sword to usher the men onto the road.