Going Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series)

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9780147516954: Going Home: A Novel (The Survivalist Series)

Book 1 of The Survivalist Series

If society collapsed, could you survive?

When Morgan Carter’s car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: the country’s power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored—if it ever will be. An avid survivalist, Morgan takes to the road with his prepper pack on his back.

During the grueling trek from Tallahassee to his home in Lake County, chaos threatens his every step but Morgan is hell-bent on getting home to his wife and daughters—and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. 

Fans of James Wesley Rawles, William R. Forstchen's One Second After, and The End by G. Michael Hopf will revel in A. American's apocalyptic tale.

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About the Author:

A. American has been involved in prepping and survival communities since the early 1990s. An avid outdoorsman, he has a spent considerable time learning edible and medicinal plants and their uses as well as primitive survival skills. He currently resides in Florida with his wife of more than twenty years and his three daughters. He is the author of Going Home, Surviving HomeEscaping Home, and the USA TODAY bestselling Forsaking Home.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

This had been a good week. I worked from home all week until Wednesday, when I got a call and had to make a quick trip. The next day I had to run up to southern Georgia for a service call, but first I was going to finish polishing this stove. I picked up a little box woodstove at a yard sale. It looked rough, rusted all to hell. A little elbow grease and several wire wheels for the grinder, and she looked great. Now I was just finishing the stove polish.

I was hoping that I could get this thing put in over the weekend. Having this in my bedroom would be sweet. I already had all the pipe and fittings for the stack and plenty of “encouragement” from Mel to get it done. She never ceased to amaze me; in her mind, anything she could think up was easy to do. Like adding another bathroom to the addition— never mind the fact that it was lower than the rest of the house. I just couldn’t seem to get it through her head that water flows downhill. I still love her, though.

Depending on where I was going and how far from home, I would adjust my gear. I had two different packs. One was a three-day assault style with a one-hundred-ounce water bladder, and the other was a rifleman’s pack. This trip was taking me to Donalsonville, just north of Tallahassee. Since it was November and a little cold and far from home, I threw the rifleman’s pack in the car. I went out to the shed and grabbed a half case of MREs and threw those into the rear floorboard. The people I worked with would give me a lot of crap about the stuff I carried with me. It didn’t bother me because I seldom saw any of them—that was the nice part about working from home.

I hate my alarm clock. The damn thing went off, and I, of course, snoozed it; fifteen minutes later, I snoozed it again. Finally, at six, I got up and hauled my ass to the shower. After taking care of my morning S’s—shit, shower, and shave—I grabbed my bags and took them out to the car. Back in the house, I went in and kissed the girls, as well as Mel, good-bye.

“When will you be back?” Mel asked as she poured one of my stainless steel water bottles full of sweet tea.

“I should be home pretty early Friday. I don’t think this will take that long,” I replied.

“Good. Try and be home in time for dinner,” she said.

“I’ll try,” I replied, kissing her and walking out the door.

Little Ash ran out to the porch as I was getting into the car. “I love you, Daddy!” she called out.

“I love you too!” I called back to her. She blew me a kiss, and I acted as if I caught it and stuck it in my pocket. “I’ll save it for later!” I said and waved good-bye.

The trip to the facility in Georgia went smoothly; fi nishing the job quickly, I headed home. Back on the road home, I was eager to start the weekend. I would be home in about four and a half hours and have an early start to my weekend. Coming down 27 into Tallahassee, I stopped in a Mickey D’s to grab a burger and a large sweet tea then jumped onto I-10, heading east. I was blissfully munching on a heart attack helper, listening to the radio, and cruising down the interstate, putting miles behind me; it couldn’t get any better. I had almost 250 miles to be home, just a few hours.

The radio was pumping out a mix of country and alternative rock; I scanned the channels constantly. Crossing the Tallahassee city limits, the music stopped, and the abrasive emergency alert tone came onto the radio. The initial low and grating tone morphed into the high-pitched constant tone. “This is a test of the emergency alert system,” I said out loud to myself. The tone stopped, and so did my car. I looked down at the dash, and all the gauges dropped; the engine was making an awkward noise, being forced to turn over by the momentum.

“Ah shit!” There went my early weekend. I pulled the shifter into neutral and turned the key—nothing. I coasted the car to the shoulder and stopped. Just outside of Tallahassee, I-10 got pretty rural real quick. It also went through a hilly area, up and down. I was in the bottom of a small valley created by two of these hills. There were no cars in the westbound lane, just me. I sat there for a minute, shaking my head.

“Damn you, Murphy!” I said.

Some people believe they have a guardian angel following them and looking over their shoulders. If anyone was following me around, looking over my shoulder, it was Murphy, and that prick had a horrible sense of humor. I often cursed him and “the gods” for messing with me. “The gods” refers back to when Greeks believed there were gods above that interfered with the lives of men for entertainment; sometimes it really felt that way. And this was one of those times.

I reached over into the seat beside me and picked up my phone. The BlackBerry had a black screen—dead. It was plugged into the charger, so what the hell? I looked at the charger, and the little red LED that was always on wasn’t there. Oh, this was just fucking great—the car died, there was no power, and the phone went at exactly the same moment. I sat there for a minute, and the calculator in my head started doing some math. First, no car had passed me since my car stopped; nothing was moving east or west on the interstate. Second, the emergency alert on the radio just stopped right when the car did. One and two equal I’m screwed, I thought.

I stepped out of the car and put on my light coat. People think it doesn’t get cold in Florida, but this November was rather cold. Fortunately, the wind wasn’t blowing, and it was clear and sunny. I looked both ways and didn’t see anything moving. I walked around to the passenger side and opened the door. Lying on the passenger seat was my everyday carry, or EDC bag, a Maxpedition Devildog. I am a gear freak and love Maxpedition products. I unzipped it and pulled out my Springfield XD .45 and tucked it into my waistband on my right side and covered it with my shirt and coat.

I decided to walk back toward the west. Having just passed Tallahassee, it was the closest thing for help. I started walking west and crested the hill after about fifteen minutes. My knees got a little weak. There were cars all over the road—on the shoulder, in the travel lanes, and in the median. There were people milling about with no clear purpose. I looked back to the east, and it was the same sight over the next hill.

Walking back to my car, I carried on a rather lively conversation in my head.

Okay, there are only two things that could cause this: an electromagnetic pulse, EMP, or a coronal mass ejection, CME, I said to myself.

Does it matter? I replied.

Not really; the result is the same, I countered.

Getting back to the car, I sat down for a minute and started to think. Okay, you have prepared for this very thing; you have everything you need in the back to walk home. Oh, shit, the girls, Mel. Where are they? Are they okay? I was nauseous. I had to close my eyes and lay my head back. The bile was rising in my throat; throwing the door open, I vomited violently until I thought my throat would tear in half. I closed the door and sat back in my seat, leaning my head on the rest. Reaching over to the bag in the passenger seat, I pulled an OD green handkerchief out and wiped my mouth.

“Oh, God, the girls and Mel!” I groaned out loud. What were they going to do?

“I know what they are going to do. We’ve talked about this. There is a plan. You need to get your ass home!” I spoke out loud to myself. Living in a small town has benefits. Mel can walk to the school if she has to get the girls. But she has the Suburban, and its Cummins should start no matter what. I looked at my watch; it was almost five o’clock, too late to try to leave but still enough light to start getting ready. “I have to get home as fast as I can!” I said aloud. Time to get moving. My watch was an inexpensive Armitron automatic that my wife bought me. It didn’t need a battery, and as long as I moved around or wound it every forty-eight hours, it worked.

With the sun heading toward the end of its arc on this side of the rock, the temp was dropping. I got out of the car and opened the rear door. I pulled the pack out and laid it on the hood. I took off my light coat and put on the mother-of-all coats, my Carhartt coat with arctic lining. This thing had been with me for years; it’s worn, and I love it. Just putting it on reinforced my resolve. I thought of those days in Wyoming when the truck broke down out near Hell’s Half Acre. The little shop was closed then. The area had a sign that said Keep Out, but Mel, the girls, and I all walked down into the alien hole in the ground and looked at the formations.

I decided to spend the night in the car just in case, by some weird coincidence, it was to be “fixed” in the morning. I pulled the MREs out of the back and opened them up. I went through and stripped them down. All the boxes and the outer bag were thrown into the floorboard. I stuffed what I kept from the bags into the sustainment pouch on the right side of the pack with what was already there. With the car not working, I couldn’t open the rear window or hatch; both used a solenoid for operation, and neither worked. I unlatched the rear seat and pulled the seat backs down to get to my tools. I grabbed my Klein linesman’s pliers, a six-inch Crescent wrench, and a small pair of Channellocks. I looked at the wrench—“Anything you can do, the Channellocks can”—and threw the wrench back into the bag. I also pulled out a ten-in-one screwdriver. It was versatile enough to win a spot in the pack. I had to be careful, though. The pack was already heavy. I’m six feet tall and weigh about 260 pounds, not all muscle either. But I had carried this bag before, and I knew I could.

I decided to inventory the car. I looked under the seats and found a personal survival kit, or PSK, I had forgotten about. It was basic—water purification tabs, a small Uncle Henry folder, a coil of wire, a very small fire steel, and a short piece of a hacksaw blade. There were some first-aid items and some other things in it; it was coming with me. Lying in the center console was a toenail clipper that went into the Devildog. In the compartment under the armrest was a cheap xenon flashlight that took CR123 batteries. I knew I had four spare batteries, so I put it in the Devildog too. In the door was a map of Florida; I took that and put it in the little bag. I pulled out of the back the suitcase that I always packed when traveling and went through its contents. There were about a dozen assorted bottles of hotel shampoo, body wash, and some mouthwash in the mesh compartment on the inside of the lid. There were also a couple changes of clothes. I pulled the skivvies and socks out and set them aside. I took my spare glasses out and set them aside. There was a small bottle of saline solution for my contacts; I set it out along with the spare contacts.

I knew the contacts would become an issue, but I would use them as long as practical. I set one pair of green TrueSpec pants to the side as well. Another pair was in the pack, but if they would fit in the bag, they were going. I took the Q-tips out of the hygiene kit as well and set them aside. I opened the outside zipper pockets and found a Glo-Toob lithium light, an Energizer headlamp, and a two-liter Platypus bag. I thought about that for a minute and remembered putting them in there right before I left because I didn’t feel like going out and getting my pack out to put them into it; I set them on the pile.

Lying beside the driver’s seat by the door was my ESEE 5; I laid it on the pile. I put the Devildog on the pile as well. As my EDC, it had a number of things in it that I would need. There were two spare mags for the XD, an Otis tactical cleaning kit, a Sylva compass, a Wilderness Outfi tters SOS survival kit, Swedish FireSteel, and other assorted items that I thought essential. I opened the pack and began trying to stuff all the items in. It was already pretty full. I could hear the guys on the board now screaming that any pack that weighed more than thirty pounds was stupid. When I was done, I estimated this thing weighed about sixty pounds. I do not subscribe to the “less is more” theory. I believe in having tools to provide for survival. If it turned out that I couldn’t carry all this, then I’d start dumping it. But for now, it was all coming with me.

I put the pack into the backseat again and leaned against the hood. It was twilight; the orange glow to the west was beautiful, though fading fast. I looked to the east and saw a few people walking down the eastbound lane toward Tallahassee. No one was going east, everyone I saw was walking west. I went back and sat in the car; the windows were all up, and I couldn’t put them down. I cracked the driver’s door so it was open but latched and did the same to the passenger doors. I didn’t want the inside to build up too much condensation and hoped this would help. The sun was dropping, and so was the temp. It was going to get cold tonight. I reached back and unzipped the lower pouch of the pack and fished around until I found the stuff sack with the poncho liner in it. I pulled it out, pulled the liner out of the sack, and wrapped myself up in my woobie.

No one that was heading toward the west came by the car; they all stayed in the eastbound lane. I reclined the seat back as far as it would go and kicked off my shoes. I wound my feet up in the liner and closed my eyes. All I could see was my wife and daughters; they were scared and far from one another. I hoped they would be back together soon. Their four faces were the last image in my mind. Sleep.

The sun’s rays hitting me in the face woke me up. I had slept all night. I was stiff, though. The world outside was starting to lighten up; I looked at the inside of the car, and a light coat of condensation was on all the windows. Opening the driver’s door, I stepped out. I had to piss, and bad, so I walked around to the passenger side and relieved myself by the front tire. No one was on the road in either direction.

“When the sun gets higher, there will be people heading west.” I was talking out loud to myself. Just out of curiosity, I walked back around to the driver’s side, leaned in, and tried the key. Nothing, not even a click. I reached in the back and pulled out my laptop bag. I set the laptop on the hood and opened it up and hit the power button. Dead as a doornail.

“Shit, this is bad. I mean, this is it. We’re all fucked. At least most people are. I need to get home. I have to get home.” I seemed to have started the odd habit of talking out loud to myself.

Okay, time to get a plan. I grabbed the map I set aside the day before and unfolded it on the hood. I was just to the east of Tallahassee. I had to decide whether to take I-10 to I-75 and turn south there or Highway 19 south. Nineteen was just a little way to the east of my current location. I knew for a fact that 19 would cut thirty-odd miles off my trip home. The GPS always showed that way as shorter but taking more time. It would take me through several small towns, Perry, Cross City, Chiefland, Bronson, and Williston before getting me into Ocala. Once I was there, I had to cross the forest and would be home.

While I was weighi...

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