Old NFO posted a great short story awhile back – truly fun and entertaining. With imitation being the sincerest form of flattery . . . I have an offering.
Not sure where this story came from but it seems to be pretty much writing itself. Not sure of it’s ultimate length either, it will need considerable fleshing out. Still, that said – let me offer its beginning for your entertainment and comment.
Into the darkness . . . .
“Damn it, damn it, damn it . . . . Grandma E is gonna be pissed!!!”
Willie was running the trail to the range at full tilt – and she was late, late, late. A quick glance at her watch showed her fifteen minutes behind already! “Damn it!!” Kyle was beating the crap out of her back, she just had never been able to get her two-point adjusted right this morning. A quick yank on the adjustment tab solved her problem a bit but jammed her rear plate hard into her lower back.
Instinctively (well, after hours of “training” by Grandma E) she listened for battle rattle as she ran. Three mags for her carbine across her chest, three more for her 1911 – all was quiet. A water bottle over each hip, med kit in the middle of her butt and her 1911 mounted on a dropdown on her right thigh – all was quiet. She wished her front plate fit her newly expanded chest – yet there was nothing she could do about that.
The morning heat was already giving a hint at what was coming later in the day; the summer had been a hot one. Hot and dry.
“We’ll take another hit on crops again this year.” She thought, remembering how her dad had that worried look on his face this growing season. It would mean more raiders – people desperate for food, desperate for water, desperate for relief from “the slide” as people had taken to call it.
Finally the gate to the range appeared . . . . with Grandma E standing next to it. “Damn it!!!!”
She came to a halt in front of her in a crisp imitation of what the military called “attention”.
“Twenty!” Barked Grandma.
Willie dropped instantly and punched out 20 picture perfect pushups.
“It’s how he died you know! Being slow. Not paying attention. Being late. Don’t think you’re immune to dying little girl. Death will come just as quickly for you as it did for your brother Kyle!”
Willie knew better than to talk back. She finished her twenty, calmed her breathing and waited. She’d only been a shooter for two years and tomorrow would be her 16th birthday. Gram (which she only called Grandma E in those few private moments girl and woman found together) was as much on edge as her dad was. Everyone felt it. “The slide” – even 70 some years after it began, showed no signs of abating. And Gram was responsible for the defense of the community – no favor would be shown to her just because she was a relative – even a granddaughter. The news – such as it was – showed raiding parties from Minneapolis, Chicago and Saint Louis were moving. Some would reach them. She and Kyle would be busy – whether such business was appropriate for a soon-to-be sixteen year old girl or not, it was coming.
“Rifle range, lane 1, kneeling with cover!” came the order. Willie took her position behind a barricade. There was no need to load and make ready, the entire community was hot – each and every firearm that could be, was loaded.
“Roll right, two rounds, center mass, fifty yards . . . . . FIGHT!!” Willy canted her vintage AR10 forty five degrees right, picked up the iron sights, loosed the safety, rolled out right and drove two rounds into the silhouette fifty yards down range. She rolled back behind the cover.
“Rule one!” shouted Gram.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouted Willie as she rolled out and sent another round into the steel.
“Rule two!” shouted Gram.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouted Willie. Again a round went downrange into the steel.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouted Willie. A final round rang steel.
Those were Grandma E’s rules of engagement. Every attacker died – no quarter. Their community was small – yet determined and prosperous in their own way. They had enough food, power, water to live. She was determined it would remain that way. Come their way, mean them harm – she gave no quarter and expected her fighters to do the same.
“Lane two, 300 yards, one round, center mass.”
Willie safed her weapon rose and ran to lane two. On her stomach, legs behind, feet flat to the ground, weapon shouldered so her whole body absorbed the recoil. Still no wind, her top mounted scope was zeroed for 300, safety off, smooth trigger press . . . round four rings steel at 300 yards.
“Who’s your team’s sniper Willie??” yells Gram.
“I am.” Shouts Willie as round five goes down range.
“What’s your job?”
“Shoot raiders!” Round six rings steel.
“When?” Barks Gram.
“Right fucking now!!!” Screams Willie as the next round hit’s steel ending her lane two shooting.
“Lane three, two rounds, center mass – fire at will!”
Again Willie safes her weapon comes up and runs to lane three. Dropping into position she quiets her mind, quiets her breathing, unsafes her weapon and quickly sends two rounds down range hearing the satisfying clang of lead on steel 500 yards down range.
“Safe your weapon! Stand!” As Willie complies, Grandma E confronts her.
“You were late! You were slow by a couple seconds! Your hits were all over the place! Where the hell is your head?? Just because you named your rifle for your dead brother doesn’t mean he’s here to protect you! You shoot poorly – you die! You shoot slow – you die! You’re slow getting to your post – you die! Damn it Willie!!”
“I am not going to cry!” “I am not going to cry!” Yet a single tear begins to slide down her right cheek, she blinks. And she sees Gram’s face soften.
“Child – no tears. They help nothing. They fix nothing. They bring no one back. You’re one of the best shooters I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a lot of them in my day. That’s a lot of responsibility – and no room for excuses. You understand?”
“Yes Ma’am, I do” Willie affirms.
“Then get your crap together! Folks here are depending on your skill to keep them safe. Don’t let them down!”
Gram’s face hardens again . . .
“Pistol range, lane one, two rounds head, two rounds center mass. Fight!!”
Pleasantries over – Willie races to lane one of the pistol range. Her standard “scrimmage line” is thirty feet. Kyle drops on his two-point sling and with a smooth draw stroke four rounds do down range – two to the head, two to the chest. Her weapon quickly back to her holster as she picks up her primary weapon – Kyle.
“Rule one!” shouts Gram.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouts Willie drops her primary weapon and draws her sidearm sending two to the head and two to the chest.
“Rule two!” shouts Gram.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouts Willie. Two rounds to the head, two to the chest.
“Make sure he’s dead!!” shouts Willie. The steel rings a final four times.
“Twenty!” barks Gram
Willie quickly reholsters, slings Kyle over her back, drops and gives another twenty picture perfect pushups.
“You’re DONE! Top off! Police your brass!!” Willie quickly exchanges her partial magazines for full ones and secures her weapons. A quick pass through both the pistol range and rifle range to pick up her spent casings finishes her range trip. Finished, she stands before her Grandmother. Finally, Gram’s face softens.
“Not bad child, not bad. You on duty tonight?” She knew the answer to that of course – southwest quadrant watch tower, midnight until 6 AM. “Yes Ma’am, I am – as you know perfectly well!” Her lips drawing up into a pixie smile.
“Don’t get lippie little girl!” Gram said with a smile crossing her lips as well.
“Yes Ma’am!” Replied Willie with just a bit more emphasis on the Ma’am.
“You read the morning intel? They’re about two days out with scouts likely only a single day out.” Gram looking in her eyes trying to see understanding of what this report meant.
“Yes Ma’am I did. They’ll likely come into our quad. Frank and I plan on mounting a foot patrol this afternoon to scope things out. If they come our way, we’ll be ready!”
“Fair enough.” Raising an eyebrow just a bit and putting same pixie smile on her face that Willie had done early Grams asks, “Up for a little bet??”
“Ssssuuuurrrreeeee?” replies Willie – cautious of any bet with Gram.
“Well, I’ll take Sam (Gram’s horse) home but I need to pass by the Sherriff’s office first. Bet you I can still beat your sorry little butt home! Looser drops and gives 20!”
“You’re on Grams!!” Her feet already pounding down the trail back to the town!
A genuine smile came across Grandma E’s face. “Proud of that little critter! Looks like I’ll owe her 20 after supper tonight!”