Harkening: The Losing

Four days later, Kyle walked up onto our porch. He looked tired and said he was hungry, so we fed him what we had available.

Since our water no longer ran, I felt fortunate that I had set up a rain barrel two years before the E-M-P. Kyle drank three Mason jars full before he felt satiated.

“Where’s your family?” Mary asked.

“They went with the fed’s,” he answered.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“One of our neighbors told me,” he responded, adding, “They’re rounding people up and taking them to camps.”

I felt a cold-sweat rush over me as I thought about this.

It was time to go to ground, walk away from our home, our lives, and our security and disappear into the high desert. I already had a plan set-up in my head that if push comes to shove, we’d walk to where I was raised – the Redwood forest and the Pacific Ocean.

My plan was met with disbelief and consternation. Neither Mary nor Kyle thought it was a plan worth exploring let alone attempting.

It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t want to go, despite the hardship involved. So since they didn’t want to try, I felt obligated to stay with them, though I knew very well the possible risk of becoming wards of the federal bureaucracy.

I’m a historian – and I know what happened to my Red Brothers at the hands of the government.

Despite my family’s decision not to leave our neighborhood, I took action anyway and filled three plastic five-gallon buckets with provisions – including backpacks – and buried them in the desert beyond the nearby dirt airport. I added a Bible, a booklet on the Constitution and a dictionary, jus’ in case.

As I was walking back from the burial site, I saw the large government vehicles as they lined up along Nightingale Way. I dropped to my stomach and pulled my binoculars from my daypack and watched as Mary and Kyle were escorted by armed men and loaded into one of the many trucks.

Suddenly a swell of panic and bile over came me. After puking, I picked up my .22 caliber rifle and aimed at the driver of the truck my wife and son were in.

If they were going to be taken from me, I was going to fight for them. I squeezed off a round and saw the windshield of the truck turn milk-white as it shattered.

My single bullet was met with an overwhelming barrage of machine gun fire. The dirt, the rocks and the dust jumped as if alive in front of the berm I was hiding behinds.

Overwhelmed, my military training kicked in and though it has been more than three-decades now, I retreated into the sagebrush and worked my way back to the base of the hillside that separates Eagle Canyon from the Hungry Valley Reservation. I holed up in one of the hundreds of crevasses as I saw uniformed men search for me.

Once darkness fell, I knew two things – possibly three – but hadn’t thought yet of thought of third one. I had lost my family and I needed to find a way out of the valley and over the hill behind me.

Moving slowly and as quietly as I could, I retrieved the buckets I had buried earlier in the day and pulled together the supplies I needed to make the trek to the North coast of California. As I hoist the heavy Alpine hiking pack onto my bad back, I promise I will return for my family.

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