Leap of Faith 4
Leap of Faith 4
Synopsis: Rookie Washington State Trooper Jeremy Cross has fallen in love at first sight with amputee Izzy Harris as she and her father Gavin approach the Seattle sinkhole to La Brea. When Gavin and Izzy make a daring leap into the sinkhole, a galvanized Jeremy equips himself from the trunk of the cruiser he shares with Sergeant James Royal and jumps in after them.
Jeremy awakens in tundra and decides to make camp in case Izzy had arrived north of him. Jeremy finds a trio of backpacks delivered by Sergeant James Royal and spends the night near where he arrived. Jeremy is awakened by a herd of muskox and sets off to the south and forested terrain.
Jeremy finds the Harris’s camp and estimates he will catch them in a week, if he can outwalk them while carrying 90-pounds of gear and supplies.
* * *
Jeremy awoke with a full bladder and the knowledge he had been stupid. He was stiff from the previous day’s hiking and had three large bottles of Ibuprofen but didn’t take any. While through hikers could complete the Sierra Crest Trail in a summer, there was no trail in 10,000 BCE. Jeremy would be lucky to complete the trip to Los Angeles in a year.
The rocket stove ate fuel quickly, so Jeremy collected extra and made coffee but not oatmeal. His diet was changing drastically so a cup of oatmeal or rice each day would help keep him regular. He would likely alternate between constipation and Montezuma’s revenge.
His cell phone charged up to 30% while Jeremy heated coffee for a breakfast of jerky and a lifeboat ration. There weren’t any cell towers in La Brea so the poor phone had exhausted itself pinging for one. Jeremy switched it to airplane mode, which seemed ironic in a world with no airplanes.
The mastodon trail was easy enough to follow and frequently passed streams where Jeremy filtered water into his stainless steel bottles. Izzy’s father, Gavin, had left a footprint proving Jeremy was still on the right track.
It was past noon when Jeremy noticed a growling noise. At first he dismissed it as his own abused stomach, but it grew louder as the forest thinned to a clearing filled with feeding
Mastodons. Okay, maybe just a dozen, but the damn things were huge. Not as tall as mammoths. Tubular was the word that best described their body shape. White tusks curved three to four feet from their jaws. Jeremy was surprised to see them noshing on wild flowers and grass as well as twigs and pine needles. Their teeth were not designed for a continuous diet of abrasive grass. Maybe they didn’t know that.
Jeremy backed away to the concealment of a cedar with a seven foot thick base and waited. He didn’t want to scare a mastodon mother. Of course, mastodon noses were sensitive and soon the area was filled with trumpeting as mothers herded their babies away from the strange man-scent. Bulls advanced towards Jeremy and wagged their huge heads; trying to catch sight of the intruder.
Boom. A baby mastodon hit the ground and the mother’s trumpeting was a maddened shriek that hurt Jeremy’s ears. He couldn’t see much of the action through the forest of thrashing mastodon legs. The bull’s gave a derisive snort in Jeremy’s direction and turned to address the attack. What was it?
Jeremy eased a bit back into the forest and sidled toward the west end of the clearing. Spot a thick boled tree. Plot the quickest path that wouldn’t trip him with branches or rocks. Look all ways. Scoot. Then look all ways before scouting for the next tree. Slow going but in a few minutes Jeremy had gained a vantage point.
The baby mastodon was still down and blood was pulsing from a wound in its throat. The reddened sides gave testimony to the crimson fountain of just a short time ago. Two mothers were trying to lift the baby onto its feet with their trunks. Jeremy felt a lump of compassion in his throat.
The mastodon bulls trumpeted warning towards the woods to the south. That was the direction Jeremy was headed. He took a deep breath and emptied his lungs to clear his mind. He looked into the forest edge for a full minute but couldn’t see past the bright meadow into the shadows.
Several more minutes passed as Jeremy snuck further south and deeper into the forest. He had just reached the pine that would shield him from the sight of the mastodons when he heard a soft cough. Jeremy froze, then slowly turned his head towards the new sound. Crap. It was a bear.
The bear was large; at least as large as a grizzly with noticeably longer legs and a smashed in face. When time allowed, later, Jeremy would realize the bear’s shorter jaws gave greater crushing power than a polar bear. The bear stood on all fours only twenty-yards away in the forest. Still, Jeremy might not have seen it except for the mastodons gobbling up lower branches and saplings. The bear was a little uphill and his eyes were higher than Jeremy’s.
Jeremy remembered two things. He couldn’t outrun a bear; especially downhill. Running would just assure the bear that Jeremy knew he was prey. Bullshit. He also recalled a movie where a grizzly stalked a pair of downed aviators. Jeremy swung the butt of his rifle up to his shoulder and pushed the safety over to ‘fire’.
The bear didn’t roar, like in the movies. The bear made a popping sound with his jaws and stood on his hind feet. That put the bear’s head taller than the backs of the mastodons. Jeremy aimed at the bear’s head and when those jaws opened again, fired a bullet through the roof of its mouth.
Jeremy didn’t hear his own rifle shot but the renewed trumpeting sounded muffled to him. The report was deafening both immediately and likely in his old age. If he lived that long.
The bear dropped like George Foreman smacked by Mohammed Ali. Jeremy palmed the rifle’s bolt sharply and chambered a new round. Then he drew his bayonet and snapped it in place on the muzzle of the rifle. This world was as scary as he had imagined. The bear hadn’t moved and the damage to its head looked mortal. A thrown stick didn’t elicit even a twitch.
Sometime later, Jeremy was back on the trail south and west with the bear’s heart in a plastic bag. Now, he was shaking. The liver hadn’t any spots but bears are scavengers. He would cook the meat thoroughly to kill any parasites.
Dead trees littered the forest floor and were attacked by fungus. Jeremy picked some morel mushrooms and some chicken-of-the-woods that he recognized as safe to eat. He placed a small bit under his tongue as he hiked. That didn’t cause any problems, so he could eat the rest for dinner.
The sun was already low when Jeremy came upon the shelter Gavin had made with long strips of cedar bark. There were several cedar trees nearby, so they should all survive the theft. Jeremy thought of pushing on for about two seconds but his aching feet and common sense agreed to spend the night in Gavin’s tepee.
A few small bones and quills in the fire to Jeremy that Gavin or Izzy had killed a porcupine. They could be killed with a club so Native American tradition was to leave them alone, unless starving.
Jeremy found a five-needle pine and collected some needles to steep as a tea. That should give him vitamin-C. Three-needle pines, like the ponderosa, had more toxic compounds. Jeremy’s mnemonic told him the Ponderosa’s Adam Cartwright had three sons. The sugar pine had five-letters in its name and five needles.
Jeremy tenderized the evening meat by stabbing it with the bayonet. Salt and a spot of Tabasco gave it a more homelike flavor. The mushrooms were softer but his jaw was sore when he climbed into bed.
Jeremy dreamt of Izzy. First, he saw her smiling face haloed by her silver hair. Then, he dreamt of her spooning him with her firm body pressed against his. Then, he heard a stick break, a large one, and he found himself sitting with his heart pounding in his throat. Where was his rifle? No. He didn’t have room in the tepee to swing his rifle. Jeremy grabbed his right wrist and followed the lanyard to the revolver’s butt. Jeremy had thought James Royal might have seen too many Royal Canadian Mounted Police videos, when he first noticed the lanyard ring on the revolver. Now, it seemed like genius. A glowing tritium front sight would have been nice, but 12,000-years too late to ask for that. Or too early.
The sound didn’t repeat and Jeremy fell back to sleep in a few hours. This time he dreamt about the bear.
Arms in schools?
Modern sporting rifle confiscation (assault weapon buyback)
Adult men outside of military service are the unorganized militia. They are supposed to keep military weapons to maintain civil order The Kyle Rittenhouse Story Explained – NBC Chicago , The Bank Raid - Northfield Historical Society (northfieldhistory.org) , counter rebellion ShaysRebellionPAT_final.pdf (umbc.edu) , repel invasion Forbidden Photos Reveal What Life In Hawaii Was Like After Pearl Harbor | HuffPost Latest News and deter tyranny Cambodian Genocide: 1975-1979 - Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Committee. Militia arms might also prove useful for protecting the home January 2017: Patty Hearst Kidnapping — FBI Why “High Powered” 5.56 NATO/.223 AR-15 Ammo is Safer For Home Defense (FBI overpenetration testing) - Gripknife or hunting California Outdoors Q&A | deer hunting 9 Best Cartridges and Calibers for Hog Hunting – Backfire . An Act concerning shooting in long bows - Wikisource, the free online library People also practice archery and sword fencing though they are not front line weapons in 2022. Archery in Tudor England - Janet Wertman
The military has adopted full-automatic assault rifles that fire a less powerful round than the .30-06 battle rifle cartridge. While the Lebel battle rifle was sighted to 2400-meters; machine guns, mortars and artillery are now available for targets at that distance. Germany found the average soldier could not identify and fire at an individual enemy further than 300-meters. The less powerful assault rifle cartridges are accurate and powerful enough at 300-meters.
Assault rifles are adapted to full-automatic fire with stocks in-line with the barrel, tall sights, vertical hand grips and detachable box magazines. Germany fielded a full-automatic battle rifle called the FG-42 (paratrooper’s rifle) but found it was not controllable in automatic fire. The nine-pound full-automatic M-14 battle rifle was supposed to not only replace the 18-pound Browning automatic rifle; but also the 10-pound Garand M-1, the five-pound M-1 Carbine (with less powerful ammunition, the .45 Thompson submachine gun and the .45 self-loading pistol. The M-14 proved uncontrollable in automatic fire and was soon replaced by the Armalight rifle firing an intermediate power .223/5.56mm cartridge.
Citizens taking their militia duty seriously often prefer to purchase an Armalight (AR-15) rifle in 5.56X45mm (.223 Remington). It fires military ammunition which will be produced even in times of war. As a NATO cartridge, it is also produced in several nations and is available when other calibers are in short supply. Like all widely used military rifles, the bugs and weaknesses have been eliminated or addressed. Barrels on civilian rifles might be rated for 1000 to 10,000 rounds while the AR-15 barrels of 4150 steel are expected to last 12,000- 20,000 rounds. Which AR-15 barrel should I get? 4150 CMV Black Nitride or 416R Stainless Steel? - Veriforce Tactical Parts, accessories’ and trained armorers are available. Veterans are familiar with the operation and maintenance.
The Federal government will not eliminate crime by confiscating rifles. While the USA experienced 13,927 homicides in 2019, only 364 were with a rifle. 600 were committed with hands and feet. 1,476 were done with knives. FBI — Expanded Homicide Data Table 8 The Mexican cartels have no problem getting firearms in a country with only one gun store for citizens. The Cartels have great success smuggling drugs and people into the USA. Police have been less successful confiscating guns from criminals in Chicago or New York City.
The majority of school shootings are done with pistols. List of school shootings in the United States (before 2000) - Wikipedia Raising the age of legal firearm purchase will not help. Half the shooters are under 18-years old and didn’t purchase their arms legally. Some stole weapons from home. Some killed family members to get guns and vehicles. Half of the shooters between 18 and 21-years old used handguns they could not purchase at the gun dealer. FACT CHECK: Have Assault Weapons Been Used In ‘Hundreds’ Of School Shootings? | Check Your Fact I believe Josh Sugarman proposed banning military style rifles as a warm up to banning handguns.
Magically eliminating firearms from the Earth will not disarm evildoers. Look at history. Please. Siege of Kiev | Weapons and Warfare Fifty-thousand inhabitants gave their skulls to the victory mound. Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus' - Wikipedia. The worst school massacre was done with explosives: Bath School disaster - Wikipedia 1927. Gasoline is perfect for arson/murder: Happy Land fire - Wikipedia 87 dead $1 gasoline.
But we don’t have magic so gun control is not perfect: Mexico violence: With only one gun shop, why all the murders? - BBC News. Where do the cartels get grenade launchers? Mexican Military Seizes Cartel's Rocket Launchers, Dynamite, Grenades near U.S. Border (breitbart.com) How do cartels get RPG and AT stuff ??? : NarcoFootage (reddit.com) RPG’s are not found in the typical American gun store.
There may also be domestic resistance to disarmament: Waco siege - Wikipedia 20+ children killed, Remembering Lives Lost in Oklahoma City Bombing, 24 Years Later | PEOPLE.com 19 children killed That time Eric Swalwell threatened to go nuclear on gun owners. Literally | Washington Examiner Could be some of that collateral damage.
Leap of Faith 3
Leap of faith 3
Synopsis: Neophyte Washington State Trooper Jeremy Cross locks eyes with amputee Izzy Harris as she and her father Gavin approach the Seattle sinkhole to La Brea. Jeremy feels love, or at least intense mutual interest. The Seattle sinkhole is maybe twenty yards across, rather than the quarter mile in Los Angeles. There is no room for an airplane to descend into it and it will not stay open for weeks. Maybe just hours.
When Gavin and Izzy make a daring leap to re-connect with wife, Eve, and son, Josh; a galvanized Jeremy equips himself from the trunk of the cruiser he shares with Sergeant James Royal and jumps in after them.
Jeremy awakens in La Brea and decides to make his camp as visible as possible in case Gavin and Izzy had arrived north of him. While stacking a line of rocks to lead Izzy (and Gavin) to his campsite, Jeremy finds a trio of backpacks delivered by Sergeant James Royal.
* * *
Jeremy awoke to warm breath in his face, and the owner hadn’t been chewing breath mints. Staying very still, Jeremy cracked an eye open and there was another eye looking at his. It was large and tawny brown with an alien, rectangular, iris. Maybe fat-waisted-hourglass was a better description. Jeremy had seen an eye like this at a petting zoo, when he was a kid. It had belonged to a goat.
This was bigger than a goat. The animal wasn’t even a mountain goat. Mountain goats could weigh up to 350-pounds but had white fur. This animal had to be heavier and had dark, smelly, hair. The horns were strange also. They could have been small water buffalo horns. Damn, this thing was a musk-ox. But musk ox lived in Alaska and Greenland. In the 21st Century.
Musk ox could take on wolves and even polar bears, Jeremy recalled. He decided to stay still, while he eased a hand slowly onto the grip of the .44 revolver in his sleeping bag. The big goat grunted and Jeremy froze, but evidently the bull had decided Jeremy was not an enemy to be kicked to death and slowly ambled away.
Jeremy let go a breath he had not known he was holding and eased up into a sitting position with the comforting revolver in his hand. He thought about shooting the musk ox. He realized there were about twenty to choose from in the herd. The meat might be useful, but he had no wood to cook it or build a drying rack or travois to haul it on the tundra. The fur might be warm but he didn’t have the equipment or time to cure the hide. Best to just let the musk ox go, for now.
The musk oxen were nibbling greenery only twenty yards away and Jeremy wanted to wait until they were at least fifty yards off before standing. His bladder told him different. Probably just as well this didn’t happen in the movies. Jeremy stood and the musk ox snorted and danced into a tight circle with horns facing outward. The bull charged at Jeremy but stopped when Jeremy crouched.
Jeremy decided that standing taller than the bull was threatening and duck-walked behind the boulder and relieved himself. His latrine was too close to camp but he wasn’t going to stay long. Damn, it was cold. Jeremy noticed fresh orange rust on his rifle. WTF. Parking the cold rifle in the humid sleeping bag had been stupid.
Next, Jeremy mounted the boulder and lit his remaining red smoke bomb and went through the whistling and scanning routine. No dice. First breakfast, then clean the rifle.
After coffee, chicken and lifeboat ration; Jeremy built a rock stack on top of the boulder with the indicator rock facing south. It was pretty clear that Gavin and Izzy were south of him and had not heard his rifle shot or seen his smoke. In the process of selecting rocks, Jeremy put two small, smooth, rocks in his pocket to warm up. There was not a lot of toilet tissue in the Pleistocene.
Jeremy wasn’t going to carry 150-pounds of camping equipment very far. Not and catch up with two un-burdened walkers. He dumped the contents of the three new packs onto the poncho from the rescue pack. His blizzard pants caught his immediate attention and he donned them at once.
Jeremy ruthlessly repacked his discards into the pink and yellow packs: winter tent, two sleeping bags, satellite rescue beacon, hand-crank-lamp/phone charger, solar phone charger, two pounds of salt, two water filters, one of two abalone knives and two of three bushcraft books. The solo stove from the rescue pack also went. The fire-powered rocket stove looked too good to abandon. The discard packs were cached under an overhang of the boulder with an armor of cobblestones and young boulders. Only a flap of the pink pack poked out to attract human attention.
The remaining cobalt and red rescue packs weighed as much as a World War One battle pack but Jeremy found that attaching the red pack to his front with carabiners meant he didn’t have to lean as far forward to balance the cobalt pack on his back.
Jeremy walked south and tripped to the ground once. He couldn’t see the ground at his feet through the rescue pack. He had been using the rifle as a walking stick, but it hadn’t saved him. He made double sure the chamber was un-loaded. There had to be predators of the musk ox and Jeremy didn’t want to be gun-shot when he met them.
* * *
Jeremy deliberately walked a path to the east of due south and turned right to follow the edge of the tree line. Underbrush was thickest at the edge of the forest where the sunlight could reach in. The bushes showed evidence of intense browsing with thumb thick branches broken off. Going about a quarter-mile, he was rewarded with a game trail. The trail was heavily trodden and far wider and taller than deer trails Jeremy had followed. Turning into the trail he stopped at every step and eventually spotted a wisp of black fabric caught on a sharp twig.
Jeremy sighed relief and felt a tension leave his shoulders. This fabric was his first indication he was in the same time/space as another human being. It was Robinson Crusoe and the footprint. The thread might not be Izzy, but that was his bet. Not the he could go back to 2021 AD, at this point.
Not much further, Jeremy saw where a pair of saplings had been cut down and shaped into spears, judging by the shavings. It was a good idea to conserve ammunition so Jeremy made his own wooden tipped spear before following. The aroma of wood and evergreens was a welcome one. When he didn’t have a positive indication he took the westward path. The Pacific coast promised a regular food supply that didn’t run very fast.
There was plentiful spoor along the trail. Jeremy had read that elephant ate over two-hundred pounds a day and the trail makers seemed to match elephant in quantity of intake. The poop was different in content. Elephant and horse poop was full of undigested grass. The trail pies were full of undigested evergreen needles and twigs as well as some seeds.
It was afternoon when Jeremy saw the human poop. There was a shallow cat scrape but it hadn’t been well covered over. Perhaps the person had been startled or a small animal had dug it up. The stool wasn’t recent enough to steam. Yellow kernels of un-digested maize shouted modern human as loudly as the tiny square of bathroom tissue. Jeremy brushed soil over the top.
A dozen yards further, Jeremy discovered the camp Gavin and Izzy had made. An evergreen had been partly sawn through and pushed over the make the spine of their shelter. The interior was floored with pine boughs while the exterior was shingled with stouter limbs.
A fire had been laid near the opening to the lean-too. The ashes were cold. Curling shavings remained of the tinder. It looked like they may have run a twig into a pencil sharpener. Delicate fish bones proved they weren’t starving.
The shelter looked inviting but a couple hours daylight remained. Jeremy figured if the Harris’s walked eight-hours a day, at the same pace Jeremy did, and he walked nine-hours; he should catch up in about a week.
Jeremy pushed on until sundown and cleared a space under a mature tree to sleep. He cut dead branches a bit thicker than his thumb and split some so the sharp edges would catch fire more quickly. He used one of the factory fire lighters to get the kindling going. The stove smoked quite a bit until the thermo-electric unit heated up and started the fan going. Then the flames roared out the top. Jeremy guessed that was why they called them rocket stoves.
Jeremy plugged his cell phone into the stove’s charging port. Battery was 0%. WTF? He left the phone on charge and prepared a meal of minute rice, dry minced onion and a foil packet of chicken. He was yawning by the time he finished eating. The cell phone had only charged to 20% so Jeremy turned it off. Whatever was happening, he wasn’t expecting any calls.
Rick Kester is a Viet Nam era veteran living in Northern California with his wife Nancy.