The Borrowed World
Jim Powell was a prepper who hated leaving his family behind during his business trips. To ease his mind, he travelled with a Get Home bag and a Get Home plan. If the worst happened, he would reach his family or die trying.
Then the worst does happen.
After a coordinated terror attack, Jim finds himself in a terrifying predicament. With thousands of stranded travelers and no law enforcement, the miles between Jim and his family become a brutal gauntlet where the rules of a civilized society no longer apply.
But despite obsessing about preparedness, Jim soon finds that training for societal collapse is very different from actually experiencing it. If Jim wants to make it back to his family, he'll need to find the strength to meet this new, harsh world head-on — even if it means rising to unimaginable levels of violence.
Release date: May 1, 2015
Publisher: Horsemen Of The Apocalypse LLC
Print pages: 260
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The Borrowed World
Imran ul-Haq was eating a late dinner and watching The History Channel. The veal he ate was exquisitely tender and perfectly seasoned, practically melting in his mouth. It was one of his favorite meals and The History Channel was one of his favorite channels. The show he watched was on the disintegration of America’s infrastructure. He found the show to be both amusing and fascinating.
Imran was a plastic surgeon of Syrian descent who now resided in Arlington, Virginia. He couldn’t help but be aware that a show this critical of the government would never be shown in his native country. During the hour-long program he learned of America’s weakened bridges, failing dams, and problems with the electrical grid. He learned about the fragility of America’s water supply. When the show ended he was struck with an idea he felt had practically been thrust into his hands. He couldn’t help but smile at his good fortune.
At the end of the program, there was an advertisement which told viewers how to order a DVD of the show. Imran scribbled a quick note to himself, reminding him to order five copies that very evening. Four of the copies he would send overseas with no explanation necessary. When the recipients viewed the DVDs they would see them through the same lens as Imran did. A deadly idea would grow. It would blossom into a flower of death and destruction.
The surgeon recalled the attacks of September 11th. He envisioned a broader attack. Something with more men and lasting devastation. Something more visceral and less flashy. Something that would even be less complicated because the Americans had done half the work already. By allowing vital parts of their nation to weaken to this point, he suspected much devastation could be accomplished with very little work. With a few skilled men and well-placed munitions this country could be toppled like a stack of toy blocks. Imran was certain of it. The producers of the show had practically laid the plan out for him.
This was obviously not work for plastic surgeons, though. Such complex orchestrations would have to be the work of a man with the right connections and significant funding. Such a man could call upon cells of the faithful hiding in plain sight in North America and call them into action. A man on the fringes of a movement such as ISIS would be perfect. A man like his brother.
Imran went to his custom-made walnut bookcase, opened a glass door, and retrieved a mundane text on Islamic history. In Iraq, the same text sat in his brother’s living room on a humbler and likely dustier shelf. Imran sat down at his computer and went to a generic webmail account that he used to communicate with his family. He started an email to his brother and typed a series of numbers.
“3-18, 28-98, 9-32 . . .”
It was a simple system. The numbers instructed his brother as to what page number to go to in the book and which word to retrieve from that page. When all the words were obtained from the book and written out in order they spelled out a message. This was referred to as a “book code” and was nearly impossible to break unless you happened to have the same copy, same edition, same printing of the book that the sender and receiver were using. When Imran completed his email, he clicked the Send button. Before rising from his desk, he went ahead and ordered those copies of the show he’d just seen on the History Channel.
His housekeeper had left him a nice chocolate cake for dessert. She was truly an amazing cook for an American woman. He placed a modest slice on a china plate and sat back down in front of the television. That show about lumberjacks was coming on and he was particularly fond of it, although they certainly used a lot of profane, heathen language. American television may one day be remembered as its finest achievement, he mused.
* * *
Almost six months had passed since Imran mailed his brother the DVDs and he was only now hearing back from him. The communication came in the form of another book code email advising him of a special family celebration taking place in Syria that he must return home for. Imran knew this message meant that the seed he’d planted had grown into something significant. He hoped it would be something very special indeed. As he had no family to be concerned about, he had his office manager clear his schedule for a month of vacation and began to pack. He hired a service to box the contents of his home and pack them in a shipping container bound for Syria. Due to trade imbalances there was very little freight leaving U.S. ports these days. Shipping all of his belongings home only cost him six hundred American dollars. That was a bargain. With his surgical skills he could easily start a new life, perhaps in some place like Dubai, a place he’d long wanted to visit. He had savings sufficient to make that happen.
On his last day in the United States Imran dealt with his financial arrangements. He had his accounts transferred to offshore banks he could access from anywhere in the world. He retained several thousand dollars in cash, which he dispersed throughout his luggage and on his person. He drove his Mercedes to the airport and left it in long-term parking where it would sit for a very long time.
Later, aboard his plane, the U.S. receded from his window. He thanked the country for his medical education and hoped that it emerged from its coming hardships a better nation than the one he was leaving. A more humble nation. A more spiritual nation.
Perhaps even a Muslim nation.
On the same day Imran fled America, an Iraqi grocer in Detroit received an encrypted email from a fellow Iraqi in Germany. He was instructed to contact four men across the United States, each the leader of a cell of men who had sworn their lives to Jihad. The men were previously unknown to the grocer and he was given a specific greeting to use with each of the men. When they heard his greeting they would know that Allah was calling for them. Each cell leader had a specific response he was to recite back to the man from Detroit. When the grocer received the correct response, the men’s identities would be confirmed and they would receive their instructions.
The four cell leaders would then contact each member of their cell with further instructions. Some were to purchase handheld GPS units commonly used for backpacking or hunting. Several were to purchase ATVs and trailers for hauling them behind vehicles. One was instructed to buy a pop-up camping trailer. Two dozen men were told to purchase hunting licenses, camouflage clothing, and scoped hunting rifles in .30-06 caliber. They were instructed to practice until they were proficient with the weapons. Other men had no specific assignments other than to wait and stand ready for a call. They were all given one week to prepare themselves and pray for success.
On a Friday, two dozen ISIS-trained terrorists converged on the U.S. and crossed its borders illegally. Six crossed remote border sections in the forests of Washington State on backpacking trails used by marijuana smugglers. Several entered Texas, smuggled across the border by a drug cartel paid in cash and asking no questions. Others crossed from Windsor, Canada, into Detroit in the trunks of cars. The remainder arrived on the Florida and Georgia coasts transported by high-speed Cigarette cruisers.
Each of these groups was met by a cell member and issued a duffle bag with false identification, clothes, a handgun, extra magazines and ammunition, and a prepaid cell phone. Programmed into each phone was the number of the cell member they would be paired with for their segment of the operation. In addition, each was given a key attached to a white tag. Each white tag held a different set of GPS coordinates.
Bilal spoke not a word of English but that was fine. He wouldn’t need it for his business there. He used his prepaid phone to contact the cell member assigned to him, a Tampa waiter.
“I’m Ali,” the waiter said. “What’s your name, brother?”
Bilal did not reply. He hated these amateurs.
Ali was embarrassed by the slip. He knew they were not supposed to use names but he had little training and had never been called into an operation before. He was nervous and didn’t know how he was supposed to act with this terrifying man from the front lines. He realized that with his attempts at camaraderie and friendly small-talk he likely appeared inept, or worse, Westernized.
“Did you rent the house as instructed?” Bilal asked.
“Did you gather the things that you were asked to gather?”
“I purchased everything. All has been done exactly in the manner in which I was instructed.”
They spent that night at Ali’s apartment and left the next morning in a recently purchased minivan. Ali had bought it used with cash he received in a FedEx package. As instructed, he had removed the seats and had the windows tinted. Using the handheld GPS unit the pair sought the coordinates written on the key tag that Bilal had been given upon his arrival. The coordinates led them to a self-storage facility and a particular block of units hidden in the dense maze of metal structures. Bilal’s key fit Unit 437. He opened the lock and raised the door. Inside were several plastic trunks about four feet long and two feet wide.
“What are these things?” Ali asked.
Bilal did not answer. He despised Ali’s talkative nature. He’d been allowed his whole life to speak without thinking when he should have been clouted on the head for his loose tongue. Wordlessly, he gestured at Ali to help him load the trunks into the vehicle.
“The boxes are heavy,” Ali complained.
Bilal remained tight-lipped. Again, the other man felt the need to voice the obvious. He completely lacked any discipline.
When they’d closed the unit up and were back on the road, Bilal asked Ali if he’d studied the route as instructed.
“Then take us to Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” Bilal said. “To the house you rented. Do not exceed the speed limit. Use utmost caution.”
“What then?” Ali asked. “What will we do when we get there?”
“When there is something you need to know, you will be told.”
* * *
For a week, Ali and Bilal stayed in their rented house in Baton Rouge. In the back bedroom was a chest freezer Ali had purchased at the Home Depot. It was around four feet long and three feet deep. Beside it was a plastic tub of water. Each hour, Bilal reached into the freezer and removed what Ali now suspected were mortar shells. There were two of them and Bilal dipped the nose end of each into the water and then replaced it in the freezer. Over the last couple of days the nose end of each shell had grown about an inch thicker with ice. When Bilal was satisfied with his work, he sent Ali to Walmart to purchase the largest marine cooler he could find. Once he’d secured the cooler he was to fill it with dry ice.
That night, as Bilal knelt in the living room floor and recited his prayers, he received a text message containing a set of numbers. Referring to a small notebook in his pocket, Bilal was able to transpose the encoded numbers until he decoded the intended message. It was another set of GPS coordinates. When he was done translating the message, Bilal went to Ali.
By 2 a.m., Bilal and Ali were concealed in a stand of trees approximately one mile from ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery. It was one of the largest oil refineries in America, capable of producing over a half million barrels of oil a day. While the shot was nearly at the limits of the 81mm mortar’s range, Bilal had extensive experience with the weapon in Iraq and was more than capable of hitting such a large – and highly flammable – target as the refinery.
The weapon consisted of four manageable pieces: the cannon, the mount, the base plate, and the sighting unit. He and Ali hauled the plastic trunks into the woods beside the road. They then carried each piece to a specific site, exactly where the coordinates Bilal received earlier had instructed him to set up his weapon. When the weapon was assembled, Bilal had Ali return each plastic trunk to the vehicle while he sighted the weapon.
Bilal removed one of the ice-encrusted High Explosive mortar shells and placed it gently in the firing tube. The base of the shell slid easily into the tube. When the ice encrusted section hit the tube it was too large and would not slide further inside. This was by design and exactly as planned. The shell would hang partially exposed from the barrel, where it would stay until the ice melted.
“Genius,” Ali uttered as he watched.
“We used this method in Iraq,” Bilal said. “When the ice melts, the round slips down the tube and strikes the firing pin, firing the round.”
“How much time do we have?” Ali asked.
“In this heat, less than an hour, I expect,” Bilal replied. “Let us go. We have another to set up and not much time.”
After the second mortar installation was set up, they returned to the rented house to empty the trunks and cooler from their vehicles. While Ali carried two of the trunks down the hallway, Bilal stepped up behind him with a suppressed Walther P22. He emptied two quick rounds into the back of Ali’s head. As Ali slumped forward, Bilal unscrewed the suppressor and stowed it, along with the weapon, in his pocket.
Bilal watched without expression as Ali’s body stiffened and spasmed, the brain dead but the body not yet aware of that fact. When the gyrations stopped, Bilal dragged Ali’s body to the back bedroom and wrestled him into the chest freezer. Bilal then walked back through the house, locked the door behind him, and departed in Ali’s van.
In the back of the van there remained one large plastic trunk. Inside were one dozen M72 Light Anti-tank Weapons, otherwise known as LAWs. They were compact weapons, around two feet closed, and weighing only five pounds. Their range was nearly one thousand meters. In Bilal’s pocket were more GPS coordinates and a list of secondary targets. With his primary objective completed, he could proceed with taking out those other targets. He allowed himself a quick flush of pride. The night would be glorious.
As Bilal drove into the night, the ice on his mortar shell melted sufficiently that it was no longer able to resist the downward pull of gravity. The remaining ice slipped free and the shell dropped down the tube. With a loud pop, the shell struck the firing pin. The primer ignited the propelling charge and the missile arced toward the refinery. Those working at the refinery that night heard the noise and saw the arc of the shell coming toward them. A few veterans even recognized the signature sound of a mortar round and ran for their lives.
It was impossible to run far enough, though. At the end of the projectile’s path the detonating nose of the mortar struck a gasoline storage tank and exploded instantly. What ensued was a massive series of explosions that would result in a tremendous loss of human life. There was damage to the refinery that would render it inoperative for at least a year, if not longer.
However, that was not the end of this long night. All of the ISIS terrorists operating that night were able to achieve their primary objectives and the majority of their secondary objectives. In operations identical to Bilal’s, fuel refineries across the south were struck by 81mm mortars at ranges of one-half to one mile. The Baytown Refinery in Baytown, Texas, the nation’s largest, went up in flames, as did the smaller Texas City Refinery. In Louisiana, the Lake Charles Refinery and the Beaumont Refinery were also destroyed. In the Midwest, the Whiting Refinery in Indiana was set ablaze by a twenty-seven year old Iraqi operative named Wahid. In one hour, the United States lost the capacity to refine three million barrels of oil each day.
In remote sections of Alaska, two terrorists one hundred miles apart used shaped charges on short timers to compromise the Alaskan Pipeline. Each man carried ten charges in a backpack and followed the pipeline on an ATV. They randomly placed charges and set timers to detonate in thirty minutes or less.
In Russell County, Kentucky, a thirty-two year old Syrian named Faisal used a stolen American Javelin anti-tank weapon to place a shell in a weak earthen section of the fragile Wolf Creek Dam. Before his very eyes, the earth began to crumble. Within minutes water was pouring through the dam and making its way toward Nashville. The entire city would be flooded by morning.
In the Hampton Roads-Newport News area of Virginia, an American of Iraqi descent named Hasnat drove his catering van through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. In the seat beside him was the ISIS operative he’d been assigned to transport around the city. Hasnat was unsure of the nature of their operation. He only knew that the van was full of boxes and that his guest did not feel him worthy of knowing what was inside them. That was okay. He understood the importance of compartmentalization.
As the bridge turned to into a tunnel and dropped beneath the bay, Hasnat sensed a change in his guest. He suspected that he may be claustrophobic. When Hasnat turned to speak to his passenger, he saw the remote control in the man’s hand and immediately understood. With only the first word of his prayers on his tongue, Hasnat’s vehicle detonated and removed a seventy foot section of this marvel of engineering.
Using Javelin anti-tank weapons and 81mm mortars, explosive shells rained from fields and rooftops upon the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and a string of power plants. When the terrorists achieved their targets, each followed Bilal’s lead and executed the cell member assigned as their escort, erasing their tracks. There were to be no loose ends remaining on American soil.
Other than the two men working the Alaskan Pipeline, each terrorist was assigned multiple secondary targets within the Eastern, Western, or Texas Interconnection Power Grids. Some had LAW rockets. Others, dressed in hunting camouflage and armed with 30-06 hunting rifles, fired into crucial and difficult to replace transformers at select power stations. As high voltage lines and crucial power stations within the grid were destroyed, the United States began to go dark. Power failed, soon followed by communication, transportation, and medical services. Law enforcement would soon fail as well, taking the peace of a nation with it.
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