I'd like to remind everyone that this is a work of fiction. I hope the readers of this work are smart enough to think before trying some of the crazy stuff my characters get up to but just in case here is a word to the wise ... while the projects mentioned in the following chapter are real they are not necessarily advisable. You reproduce them then you take full responsibility for the consequences. Mother Hen will now jump off the soap box and proceed to the rest of t he story.
Concern turned to alarm. “What kind of stuff?”
“Oh … this and that. I’ll have to look around but Dad and I used to find the most interesting things in the dump when we went scavenging.”
I turned to him and said, “I don’t tell you how to do your thing and you don’t tell me how to do mine … Querido.”
He snapped, “Ah … now you use my own words against me.”
I grinned wickedly and said, “Yep.”
Still suspicious he said, “Very well. As soon as you how do you say … do your thing … I will tell you how we will use … er … your thing.”
There really is a ton of simple household items that can be used to cause all types of mischief. I gathered Styrofoam, glass bottles, what looked like pieces from an old hair weave, some newspaper, rubber bands, a half full bottle of hand sanitizer, some powdered pool chlorine, a small jar of powdered sugar, some Ritz die, some stump remover, and some old broken fireworks. I also found some old fuel in the dump’s generator shack and a few other odds and ends that I needed.
Abel asked, “Do I want to know what you are going to do with this … stuff?”
I smiled and said, “Sure. Let’s see I’m going to make napalm, smoke bombs, and stink bombs. Will that help you do what you want?”
When he didn’t answer me I looked at his face only to find him simply staring at me. “Querida … remind me never, ever underestimate you.”
“Well, that’s a given,” I told him with a grin. “Seriously Abel, will this help? I could probably come up with something else but this is the quickest and easiest.”
“If we burn them out … but small fires will be easy to put out.”
I got my mischief brain cells going to try and work around the problem. “OK, we start fires in empty buildings first. They won’t be noticed until they are too far gone to stop. Second, we don’t need to burn every building but maybe every third or fourth building. If we can get a fire going good they’ll start the houses beside them on fire anyway. For the occupied buildings we can distract them with the smoke and stink bombs in one place but start the real fire in another area.” Thinking for a few minutes I added, “The napalm will be really hard to put out if we spread it around a lot. It can also be used in Molotov cocktail type bombs. The real trick is going to be getting enough fires going at the same time … or make them seem like they start at the same time.”
“I will see what I can see. You … er … do whatever it is you do to make … stuff. I need to scout and see what I can find that will help us further.”
We went back and forth a little about what I would do if he wasn’t back before morning with neither one of us completely satisfied but off he went and I remained to play mad scientist.
First I moved into a protected area, but one that gave me full advantage of the bright moonlight. I started by making the smoke bombs because they took time to set up. The stump remover was primarily made of potassium nitrate. I measured out some into a container that I had placed over an open flame. I added in nearly an equal measure of sugar that I had in my pack. I slowly “cooked” the two dry ingredients until the sugar started to carmelize and continued stirring until I got what looked like peanut butter. Removing it from the flame I added a small measure of baking soda to slow the combustion. Once that was mixed in I added a box of Ritz dye and mixed that together. I spooned the colored goop into a paper tub and then stuck a small stick into the middle to create a well.
Each smoke bomb would have to cure for one hour. At the end of the hour I took the stick out and then stuck in a piece of fuse from the old fireworks and held it in place with a little stuffing I ripped out of an old sofa pillow. Then came the hard part; I had to sacrifice my roll of duct tape. I wrapped each tube completely making sure I left a hole for the smoke to escape from around where the fuse was.
I also made napalm using the gas and the Styrofoam. I put some gas in several glass jars I found. Into the gas I started putting the Styrofoam. The gas melted the Styrofoam and you just kept feeding it more and more Styrofoam until there was no gas left in the jar and everything was this sticky jellied mess. This was dangerous stuff because once it started burning it was hard to put out. It burned so hot that it would catch just about anything on fire … including your hands if you were so careless to get it on you. And the burn from it was horrific. To impress on me how serious I was to take it Dad made me watch documentaries about napalm from the Vietnam era.
The powdered chlorine was really bad stuff as well. First off I had to crushed the granules into a fine powder, then I added some of the powdered sugar that I had found. I was a little regretful of using it the way I was but decided it wasn’t worth the risk of contamination to use it for any other purpose. The powder that was made by mixing the crushed chlorine with the powdered sugar would burn and make a terrible, lung burning odor. But there was another product that it made. Once the powdered had been burned it made a kind of puffy mess that when it was lighted would burn like plain potassium nitrate would … fast and super hot.
The stink bombs were the easiest to make. I placed some of the hair from the hair weaves in the middle of a piece of newspaper. I added a couple of old rubber bands and then loosely folded the paper into a packet that I think tied with some old string I had found. When the packed was lit the paper would burn and then catch the hair and rubber on fire. The stench was very, very powerful.
I would have liked to have dozed a bit but I heard rats in the dump and had no desire to wake up and find myself as a meal for the beasties. It was a good thing I didn’t sleep or I might have missed the argument over on what I had come to think of as the Richard side of town. Some folks did sound too happy about having to miss a meal.
Richard managed to get his people under control but it looked like a close thing but it was a little hard to tell in the dark. Perhaps Richard didn’t have it as together as we worried. Or maybe people had just come to expect too much from him. I expect the Peter Principle was just as true during the apocalypse as it was before, perhaps even more.
Around midnight Abel came back to me. He was exhausted so I gave him some trail mix I had fixed for those in between times in case the forage was slim. After he had the chance to catch his breath he told me, “It is both worse and better than I had hoped.”
I tried to wait patiently for him to explain. “The food warehouse is nearly empty. Hakim starves his prisoners and has his men on short rations. They are not at their best. But they are desperate and jump at shadows. From what I can tell from watching them there are factions within Hakim’s men and if we do not succeed my guess is he will be assassinated soon.”
He handed me a belt. When I found out they were grenades I nearly dropped them. “Ah but Day-cee, I thought you liked things that went boom.”
I wanted to slug him. He could tell and smiled predatorily. “They guard the food with more zeal than they guard their munitions. I removed a good sum and cached it for us to get to in case we need it and in case the rest is destroyed during our offensive.”
“Is that what we are doing then?”
“Si Querida … we are … uh … hmm … bringing it to them for a change. Yes?”
Oh yeah, and I was ready too. We decided to begin lying our traps. On the Hakim side of town there were a great many empty buildings for us to choose from to sabotage, almost too many buildings. It was sad low the tyrant had fallen. On the Richard side of town the area was small but there was more people. But, a lot of the buildings like store fronts in disrepair or damaged and weren’t being used. We put napalm trails through a great many of those buildings and utilized anything that might be extra flammable like drapes, piles of old clothes, papers, anything really.
I picked up a few more odds and ends along the way as well … a container of air soft pellets, a jar of change, some tape, some paper caps for a toy gun, balloons, and real pay dirt when I found a stash of illegal fireworks including two whole bricks of black cats. Wahoo was I gonna have some fun.
I was coping by using my weird sense of humor but there was an underlayment of sobriety too. If we didn’t pull it off the ground work for someone else’s battle had been laid. But we knew that if we did manage to pull it off we would be creating a huge mess but I sure as heck had no intention of helping them to clean it up. There was evidence all over the place of the life people had been living with the biggest one being the fact that there were very few children of any age around.
With the materials laid and our reserves cached in various areas we had to decide which side to light up first. We had more ground to cover in the area that Hakim theoretically controlled but were likely to run into less interference if Abel’s experience continued to be the norm. On the Richard side we had less ground to cover but the likelihood of interference due to the large number of people was greater. Either way we had run out of darkness and had to hide and rest for the next big push that we planned on starting around midnight of the following night.