"We need to be careful. They have like these little chips they put on everything at the store and they can track you with satellites and know what you have bought or what stores you go in and stuff like that. I don't know if it's true, but this girl at school told me about it."
That was the conspiracy theory from Candace about the things Patty and the kids had taken from the two contractors whose bodies they left behind on highway 80.
"You mean RFID chips? Sorry, they don't work that way. I've worked with them as part of inventory management audits and they cannot transmit to satellites or track what you tried on at the mall, Candace." replied Patty.
"That's just a bunch of urban legends cooked up by people who like to be provocative or who are afraid of technology in general. It's a standard social construct described as "man versus technology" and ..."
Patty stopped when she realized Candace's eyes were glazed over and staring at the nails on her right hand as she pedaled along the road. Patty sighed and went back to her own thoughts. She was concerned about the path they were taking and the detour around Terrell would add an additional day at least to their trip.
Entering into Dallas would have to be done by way of 205 to highway 78 and then into Wylie or Garland which were both north by northeast of Dallas. Patty wanted to avoid central Dallas at all costs and particularly wanted to avoid the area in the southeast sector from town.
If she could make it down 78, they could cut into Dallas in the northern part of the city and get the teens in the general area where they lived. Patty did not have high hopes that their families would even be at home or welcoming to anyone coming to the front door, so she had to prepare for that contingency. She also had to prepare for the possibility that one or more of their families may be dead which would naturally lead her to taking them to her house or to a family friend or relative who might take them in.
Next up, the guns. There was no way Patty could carry three rifles, the two M4 and the .243, so she handed on of the carbines over to a very eager Brad along with half the magazines. Patty kept the other and made Candace carry the .243 with it's paltry four rounds remaining. Catelyn ended up with the Ruger but she refused to give up the shortened twenty gauge shotgun claiming it would be "bad luck". The .357 remained with Patty for the time being.
They kept the MRE meals naturally, along with an extensive first aid kit one of the riders carried. After a brief discussion, it was decided the body armor was both too heavy and hot to wear while riding a bike, so it was left behind along with all the other personnel effects the riders carried and which would be impractical for them to take. Patty did keep on of the portable radios the men had out of curiosity as to what might be broadcast not only among the convoys, but in general on the open airwaves. She planned on trying that tonight after they stopped for the evening.
That led to the next train of thought in Patty's already busy mind. Get as far from the scene of the last shoot out as quickly as possible. She warned the kids they would be riding until almost dark and would be down with the smallest footprint possible and would continue to do so for the next few days. Patty had no uncertainties that the FEMA or DHS people would be very eager to catch up to Patty and her young friends if they knew they were the ones behind the shooting.
That night, the four camped off 205 in a wooded area just past Air Park East which was northwest of Terrell. The area was lightly populated and they saw only a few walking on the road but several people working the gardens and fields around their homes near the road. Nobody waved or said anything, they only stared as they passed by.
Brad had made something he called Burnout Stew which consisted of the rest of the vegetables from Winona along with the last of the ham and bacon. He cooked it in the Dutch oven over a fire surrounded by rocks and full of coals. While everyone dug into their bowls, Patty took out the radio and carefully examined it. She then turned it on but did not have a chance to adjust the volume first.
"Cool78, copy and out!"
"King City, lockdown protocol at 3, over!"
"King City copy! Initiate on my mark. 3!"
"What's all that stuff?" asked Candace.
"Some kind of chatter from those DHS guys, I guess." said Patty. She then turned down the volume and started scanning the other channels after making a mental note of the original channel. At first, there was nothing other than static and the quavering sound of carrier waves. Then the static was punctuated by a clear voice from the tiny speaker.
"We sent them packing when they came by, but there are still bogies in the area. What's your situation, Lincoln?"
"The same, but we've had multiple visits from the JBT's. According to the junior DMV clerk I spoke with, my bovines constitute a working dairy farm and I would be receiving a production quota in the next week. I asked about the juice and he threatened to confiscate my property for the duration. I almost handed him the keys and a shovel and told him to start mucking the stalls. As far as I am concerned, they can have it at this point."
"How's the kiddo doing?"
"Hanging in there. We been using poultices to keep down the fever, but not much else we can do. Neighbor is trying to rustle up some vet antibiotics if he can find them."
"Sorry to hear that Lincoln. Our prayers are with you."
"Much obliged. DW said it might be best for the little one, you know what I mean? Things going the way they are and all. She might be lucky at this point."
"Don't say that Linc, we'll get through this. Providence has it's hand in card game now. Just a matter of time before we shake this off and get going. If we were closer I'd send down Sissy, but we can't risk her with her condition."
"I appreciate it, good buddy, I really do. I'm just tired, hardly slept the past week with all the goings on. I got to head to the house, batteries are about gone. We'll hook up next time Hee Haw comes on."
"Same bat time.."
"Same bat channel... over and out"
They sat there quietly until Patty turned off the radio as the signal faded away.
"His kid is sick, aren't they?" asked Catelyn.
"That's what it sounded like." said Patty.
"And there are no doctors or medicine available is there?"
"That sounds about right. Poultices. That sounds like something out of the 19th century." said Patty.
"What was the rest of it? Hee Haw? JBT?" What does that mean?" asked Brad.
"I don't know but I think the Hee Haw was a reference for the next time they would talk by radio." replied Patty.
"Huh?" said Candace.
"You don't remember Hee Haw? It was a country western variety show that used to be on TV a long time ago. I think it was on Sunday nights around dinner time. My dad used to like listening to this big fat guy in overalls named Junior tell stories. I thought it was dorky of course, but I think that is what time their next radio call will be. Sunday around six or so."
"What about the other stuff?" asked Candace.
"I don't know but it sounds like someone from the government, that's what I take the DMV or Department of Motor Vehicles, to be. That some local official or maybe some of those DHS guys are telling that Lincoln person how much milk he has to produce for the community. Probably to distribute to others or something. He did not sound too happy about it though." said Patty.
"Are they paying him for it? I mean if he's getting paid or getting something for it, I wouldn't complain." said Brad.
"Where did you hear he was getting paid, Brad? It sounded like they were telling him to hand over the goods or else. That's not a bargain I would want." said Patty.
"Do you think we can get Dallas on that radio?" asked Candace.
"No, I think this is all local, like in the closest ten or twelve miles. These are only walky talkies, not short wave radios or anything. Sorry." said Patty.
"Who would we call anyway, Candy? Hello Dallas? This is Candace. Can I talk with my mom and dad? They live on East Chase Mill in the brick house near the Galleria. Can you put them on?" said Candace mimicking her sister's voice.
"Shut up, you dork. Whatever." said Candace in return.
"Okay, everyone. Let's get this stuff cleaned up and ready for tomorrow. I want to be out when the sun comes up and we have an interesting ride ahead. We are going to be leaving our scenic country ride and arriving in Rockwall, or at least the area around it. I want to avoid the city as much as possible so we'll make a short detour and then swing around and cut through to Lavon."
"After that, it's Dallas and I want to warn you guys. It's been over two weeks since the Burnout and judging how things are going, it's going to be nasty there. I don't know where we will sleep or even if we can stop any where for very long. There's probably no food and very little clean water so expect to make do with what we can carry."
"And there are going to be desperate people. Our bikes, our food, even us, are going to look very tempting to people who just a few weeks ago would not have given us a second look. I'm going to do all I can to take care of you, but I need each of you to have your heads on straight and be ready. When I tell you to do something, do it, no questions asked. Am I clear?" Patty said looking at each of the three teens.
The each nodded and then Brad spoke.
"And don't worry, Patty. We will be watching out for you too."
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