The Union Creek Journal

A Chronicle of Survival

Whatever it Takes

CWO Lawrence Lanigan – he hated to be called Larry – rubbed the salt and pepper stubble on his chin.  With the exception of a few strays on his scalp, Lanigan’s beard was the only hair left on his head.  Normally, the few remaining scalp hairs would have been neatly shaven and Lanigan’s dome would have been as slick as Mr. Clean’s, but the past couple weeks had been hectic.

First had come the discovery of a group of survivors in an area called Union Creek.  The area had not been on Lanigan’s radar prior to a chance encounter, several days prior, between some of his troops and a family hiking along a lonely road.  The family had stumbled into the Union Creek area roughly a week earlier and had been offered shelter, food, water and a few supplies before moving on.

This piqued Lanigan’s interest on two fronts.  On one hand, the family’s story identified the potential for a new area to be “mined” for resources.  The story also gave Lanigan an idea for gauging the richness of the “ore”.  Rather than blasting away the mountainside to see if there was a vein … Lanigan saw the potential to utilize soft probes to locate the combination of the richest caches of resources and the weakest protection of those resources – the mother lode!

Of course, just because soft probes might prove successful, there was no reason to abandon the tried-and-true methods entirely.  Blasting was fast and effective.

Lanigan grinned.

After the discovery of Union Creek and the soft probe revelation, Lanigan had managed to finalize his deal with the local U.N. commander, one General Wei Tsu Tin.  Lanigan despised Wei as a soldier, but he knew that he needed him as a partner.  The FEMA camps under Wei’s command were both an outlet and a resource for Lanigan.

Lanigan grinned once more as he thought back to his first meeting with Wei.  The two had come together under less-than-ideal circumstances.  Lanigan had attacked the military hospital under Wei’s command.  The facility was sacked for supplies.  Nearly everyone in the hospital had been killed.

One notable exception was a patient who had jumped out of a third-story window and made a run for the woods, his hospital gown flapping open in the wind.  When he finished laughing, Lanigan had sent one of his best men and three of his more expendable men after the little guy.  None of them had come back.

Lanigan shrugged.  Casualties of war.

Rather than come storming in with superior numbers and guns blazing, Wei had gotten word to Lanigan that he wanted to meet.  Lanigan was wary, but agreed to the get-together.  A general who didn’t want to fight raised all kinds of red flags, but the meeting held exceptional promise.

Wei had arrived, as agreed, with two of his troops.  Lanigan had done the same.  They had also agreed to arrive unarmed, but Lanigan was no fool.  He carried a concealed pistol and had snipers on the roofs of two nearby buildings.  He assumed that Wei had done much the same.

The meeting proved fruitful, but it was difficult for Lanigan to contain his disgust for Wei.  The man obviously had neither scruples nor intestinal fortitude.  Wei reminded Lanigan of many of the politicians he had encountered prior to the crash.  The slime was almost physically tangible, oozing from Wei’s pores.  Lanigan felt as if he needed a shower after the meeting was over.

In the end, Lanigan walked away alive and with pretty much everything he had wanted.  Still, it made him nervous.  Why would Wei acquiesce so easily?  Certainly, Lanigan had the ability to make Wei’s life more interesting and enjoyable in exchange for access to the FEMA camps.  Nevertheless, there was a whispering voice in the back of Lanigan’s brain that told him to keep his guard up and watch his back.  Backstabbing was likely to be Wei’s primary modus operandi.

Now, only days later, the partnership was about to pay off.  Lanigan had extracted several families from a number of the FEMA camps and unleashed them as his soft probes on the community of Union Creek.

Each family had been required to leave behind a member to ensure their cooperation.  Feeding and sheltering additional people wasn’t that much of an inconvenience, considering the potential payback – especially if they weren’t fed or sheltered all that well.

Lanigan winced at a momentary twinge of guilt and then suppressed it.  It was, after all, a dog-eat-dog world now.  Maintaining one’s position as the top dog required certain … distasteful actions … and inactions.  Lanigan purposely avoided checking in on the family members who had been held as collateral.  What happened … happened.  Live and let live.

Most of those held were children.  Although Lanigan had no children of his own, he knew the power they held over parents.  In fact, Lanigan’s own marriage had broken up over his unwillingness to settle down and have children.  The lure of military action had been too strong.  Once the taste of blood was in his mouth, Lanigan could no more resist it than a fox who had found the open door to the hen-house.  His animal instincts rose up through thousands of years of civilization to create the man he had become, destroying his marriage and most of his other relationships in the process.

Lanigan stood alone, angry, pragmatic and very near the top of the heap that had once been the civilized world, willing to do whatever it took to stay there.


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20 thoughts on “Whatever it Takes

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  1. Stjjames on said:

    I half expected the title of this chapter to have something to do with the 1st battalion, 4th Marines . . .

  2. Not to worry, Mike. The Journal is what it is. At this late stage of the game I won’t be overhauling it or introducing any new “major” characters – male or female.

    Personally, I think we’ve seen some strong female characters in The Journal. Ariela is the most obvious, but there have been others. The fact that the Gunter women are surviving entirely on their own demonstrates their resolve and resourcefulness. Laura has been right there in the middle of some of the battles acting as medic. Mandy carries on after watching her husband die. One may or may not consider these women “featured” in the story, but they are there nonetheless.

    David even comments on how, for the most part, men and women have resorted to more historically traditional roles. That’s not because he sees women as lesser beings, but rather because the clock has been rolled back in more ways than one following the crash.

    midwestmom, stay tuned for the sequel to The Journal. It’s been in the works for quite some time – long before you made this post – but I think you will find it interesting … in many ways.

    • midwestmom04 on said:

      No worries. Opinons are neither right or wrong and everyone has one about something. LOL I will definitely stay tuned!

  3. midwestmom04 on said:

    Mud –
    I really do like the story and my comments on this particular point are not meant in a negative way, as critisism of your work or to argue male vs. female PC. They are only meant to suggest plausible future additions to the overall story.

    Mike –
    Expanding one or more female characters and/or including female perspectives in the story has nothing to do with equal rights or political correctness. It would only add another reflection of reality. Because the story established from the beginning that there are several females in the core group adding those aspects to the story as it develops could be done smoothly and would make sense in the overall plot.

    This story has included life altering circumstances and decisions, murder, death of a family member or friend, a drug addict, kidnapping, good and bad individuals, vengeance, jealousy, fear, elation, corruption of power and position, suspicion, seeds of romance, mystery, despair, anticipation, betrayal, remorse, personality clashes, self-reflection, opposing beliefs, cliff-hangers, plots & sub-plots.

    While they may be exaggerated to some extent, the same elements also turn the world in a soap opera.

  4. midwestmom04 on said:

    I began reading your journal from the beginning a few days ago. Great story and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    I’m not a rabid women’s lib zealot but one thing I’ve noticed is with the exception of Ariela there is a definite a lack of prominent strong female characters. The females in the story are basically background scenery. We don’t hear much from or about them and when we do they’re mainly portrayed in a negative or weak aspect – the Gunter mother & daughters, Marta killing the female prisoner, Rhona selling her girls for drugs, Mandy unable to move past her grief, Melody’s suicide etc.

    The women in the Union Creek group have virtually disappeared. There is nothing about their day to day lives, their opinions, their thoughts or of them having any participation in group meetings or decisions. There is nothing about what’s going on within the couples. And there is nothing about interactions between the women in the group. Women would have definite thoughts regarding the new normal and they would be discussing it amongst themselves and with their husbands.

    In the story you’ve done a great job of showing men (mainly David because it is his journal but others as well) going through the process of realizing the world is now a radically different place and the choices they make in order to adapt. The ones choosing a positive path may not like the decisions they have to make and they may not like the things they are forced to do but in general they step up and do it. Women would do the same and I’d like to see some of that in the story. And somebody in the group is cooking, cleaning, making soap, raising the kids etc. I’d like to see some of the story from their perspective. Those are all important aspects of survival and none of them would be easy.

    Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses both physically and mentally. Both are important because they are designed to compliment each other in a personal relationship as well as in the bigger scope of things. Two equal halves meant to work together and create a strong whole. The story feels a little unbalanced because it doesn’t really illustrate that concept.

    One of the keys to survival is using the right person for the job regardless of gender. A woman can shoot and a man can cook….and vice-versa.

    • A fair criticism. Thanks for taking the time to put it into words.

      • Mike on said:

        Does that mean the Journal is going PC. Are you going to go back and change all the entries so you make sure they shot first to all those that attacked you. Are you going to import minorities to make sure your being fair. Whom will your equal from the female group? It’s that kind of thinking, part of the reason the collapse happened in the first place? Sorry if I’m out of line here, but really. For the next entry of “Days of Our Lives” in Union Creek!

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