Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
“Just minutes ago, an explosion rocked the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station. Those local to the station may have felt tremors from the blast. Officials in the plant are saying that this explosion was not part of a malfunction. Instead, it is believed that a device or multiple devices were detonated with the specific intent of causing a nuclear disaster…”
Inside the warmth of an expensive condo, Joe watched this news segment hit the airwaves. The newscaster said, “If you are in or around the general area of the generating station, you must evacuate immediately. Fallout and radiation from the disaster will be emanating from the station. Residents around Lake Anna are being asked to evacuate for their safety.”
His eyes widened. Joe was on the lake. He had been enjoying a warm and cozy night in, and until moments ago, his biggest problem was deciding what to watch on Netflix. Now his life was in danger.
Grabbing his keys and heading for the door, Joe decided to head south to Richmond and spend the night with some family. Before he left, he watched the news a moment longer.
“More reports are coming in of explosions elsewhere in the state and in the country. Metro areas all over the nation are experiencing attacks ranging from simple pipe bomb explosions to more planned out destruction of infrastructure like water treatment plants and dams…”
This was no one-off. Joe had to think fast. The radiation was bearing down on him and he wasn’t ready to die.
At his closet, he pulled out an old hiking bag and filled it with some clothes and other things. He didn’t own a gun and he didn’t have any extra food on hand to pack up either. The clothes, a flashlight, and some toiletries would have to do. HE HAD TO GET OUT OF THERE.
The holiday season had just ended and a blustery winter wind met him at the door. He ran to his car and threw the bag inside. The engine roared, and soon he was making his way toward the highway. He figured it would be the fastest method to get somewhere safe.
‘Where is safe?’ he thought to himself.
A few miles before reaching the highway, he realized he had made a huge mistake. The cars were stopped dead and no one was moving. He couldn’t back out and he couldn’t go forward. He found himself in a trap.
That was when the first gun went off.
Looking through his windshield, Joe watched the flash of another gun and then multiple guns firing all around him. He couldn’t discern one party from the next, and before the chaos could reach him, he burst out of the car and into the cold.
Joe made a beeline for the woods, and his running shoes were soaked by cold puddles of water before he even got there. As soon as he was hidden among the trees, he dug through his bag for extra layers of clothes. With the harsh wind and low temperature, nothing Joe put on was enough to stop the cold.
Bugout Bag Solutions: Emergency blankets, insulated winter clothing, windproof outer layers.
Before long, Joe’s hands were achingly cold, but he decided to get farther away from the power plant, even if it was on foot. His hat and gloves were not designed for these types of conditions, but they were better than nothing.
Eventually, he found himself near a steep rock face. He thought it would be a good place to rest for a moment and warm up. He felt confident that he could use the lighter in his pack to get a fire started.
Using his flashlight, he looked around the cold forest and through his own frosty breath, searching for things he could use to start a fire. The whole forest was damp.
Eventually, Joe found some dry tinder at the base of a pine tree, but he was unable to get more than a few twigs burning at a time. He simply didn’t have the wood around him to get a good fire going.
After the fire proved to be a bust, it was time to find shelter. Joe had to get out of the wind, which was picking up speed. He had no way of knowing if he was far enough from the disaster to be safe from the radiation. Still, he felt fine other than the fact that he was freezing.
Joe followed the steep rock face and found that it jutted out and around a small indentation in the cliff. Shining his light inside, he saw that it was empty. As he moved deeper inside, he noticed that it blocked the wind, but he was still very cold.
After the hike and the fire failure, he was hungry. He cursed out loud when he realized he had packed no food. He was freezing, hungry, and had no way to deal with either problem. He was also probably lost, but he would deal with that later.
Outside the small cave, he saw some bright red berries on a bush. He wasn’t sure what type of berry they were, but they looked really good, and he hadn’t eaten since lunch.
‘How much damage can a little berry do?’ he thought to himself.
He tossed a handful back and expected a sweet taste, maybe a little tart. Instead, Joe was met with something incredibly bitter. He spat out as much out as he could, but some of it went down this throat.
Bugout Bag Solutions: High-calorie bars, freeze-dried snacks, other bug out bag foods.
The berries were a bust. Now Joe was thirsty, and he had that terrible bitter taste in his mouth. He gathered up some snow in a plastic water bottle. There wasn’t much snow on the ground, so he had to gather it from little drifts next to the rock face.
Once Joe had the bottle about half full of melting snow, he headed back to the cave to warm up as best he could and get the snow to melt.
After about a half hour, the snow had melted but the water was still so cold. Joe was numb. He brought the bottle up to his flashlight and the clear white snow had melted into a disgusting, cloudy liquid that he couldn’t imagine drinking.
After another hour, Joe realized he was no longer shivering. He was tired and something about the situation didn’t feel right. The word HYPOTHERMIA kept running around his head, and he knew that he was better off moving his body and generating heat. The cave just wasn’t warm enough.
The problem was, Joe had no idea where he was or which direction to go. He looked up at the stars and the moon and then he glanced at his watch. He had no idea how to find his way. Even if he could discern North, he wouldn’t know which way to walk.
The time had come for drastic action. He was in trouble and he knew it, so he started moving at a quicker pace, but his extremities weren’t warming up. In fact, he could barely feel his feet and hands at all. Even if he could find dry tinder and kindling, his fingers were so numb that he wouldn’t be able to flick the lighter.
His phone was dead, but he checked it earlier and he didn’t have much of a signal anyway. He couldn’t even call for help. It was in this moment that Joe truly began to contemplate his death and the mistakes that led him to this point.
Suddenly there was a pain in his stomach. It was like a dagger being driven into it. He knew it was the berries right away. He suddenly got scorching hot and his head went fuzzy. Joe knelt to the ground and puked all over the forest floor in front of him.
When he collapsed to one knee, Joe also put his hand down on a sharp rock that sliced him deep. He wondered if this could get any worse. Then Joe realized he had no medicine for his stomach or bandages for his hand, and he knew that not only could it get worse, it definitely would.
Bugout Bag Solutions: First aid kit, trauma kit, antibiotic ointment, otc meds.
Each step was a ghost and his heartbeat, and the plodding was all that assured him he was still moving. His eyes were wide, and every time he passed through a thicket or reached the top of a hill, he thought he would find a road or neighborhood. Instead, he found nothing but a cold and harsh expanse of forest.
Finally, there was a light. It flickered in the distance and he moved faster towards it. IT WAS A FIRE! He swore he could feel the heat. He headed toward it as quickly as he could manage without falling over.
Soon he was almost there, the fire was just beyond the trees… then he saw the men. Four of them. He wasn’t sure if they had run from the chaos like he had or not, but they looked much warmer and more comfortable.
“Hey man, how ya doin’?” one of them said.
Immediately, Joe knew he was in trouble. Something about the man’s tone of voice and the way he looked at him was off. Joe slowly backed away.
“What’s in the backpack?”
They stood up. These men were not friends, they just wanted to take whatever was in his bag.
Joe felt instantly nauseous and his heart raced. This time it wasn’t the berries. “I don’t have anything valuable!” he cried, but from the look on their faces, they didn’t believe him.
One of the men opened a large folding knife and began to approach him. The others raised their guns and trained them on his chest.
Joe had thought the cold would take his life, but instead it was an icy blade.
Obviously what you just read is only a story, but if the shit hits the fan, there will be many real-life stories very similar to this one.