Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Nine-thirty in the morning, and the phone was ringing….on a Saturday.
“Doug Peterson,” he answered, not quite awake.
“Doug, it’s Cammie. Do you have the news on?”
“No, why would I? It’s Saturday for Pete’s sake. I was still in bed. Are you still in New York?” Cammie was his girlfriend of four months. She was attending a conference for personnel directors; paid for in full by the country club she worked for.
“There’s been a big earthquake out West. In Washington State of all places, and they think that Mount Rainier might have erupted, too!”
“Really? Huh,” he said, thinking, ‘What does that have to do with me?’
“Our conference has been cut short. They were going to have a big teleconference tie in to Seattle to Club Salish. I’m going to try to get a flight out this afternoon.”
“OK, let me know when you get your flight figured out. Maybe we can hit Campagne for dinner?”
“Maybe, we’ll have to see….Oh, I have another call on my cell. I’ll call you later. Love you!” he heard as the line clicked off.
‘No sense in trying to get back to sleep,’ Doug said to himself as he opened the bedroom blinds. The snow had let up overnight, but it was still heavy overcast, and looked damned cold.
Doug, at forty-one, had been divorced for three years, and out of a full time job for four days, as of yesterday. His ex lived up in Wisconsin and had remarried, taking her three kids from her first marriage with her. He hadn’t spoken to her since the divorce was finalized. He did miss the kids from time to time, but didn’t miss paying the alimony. That ceased when Brenda remarried.
The loss of his job had hit him fairly hard. He’d worked his way up at the restaurant supply company from loading dock worker to a division manager in twenty years of work, and as the economy soured he’d had to give out pink slips across the entire mid-west, culling the herd of employees, shrinking product lines, shedding customers. He didn’t think much of it; there had been recessions before and the company took the opportunity to eliminate the underperforming sales units, products, warehouses and staff. He was sure this would be no different…at first. When the company profits continued to slide over six successive quarters, entire divisions were shed. The southwest…really, anywhere that the real estate bubble raged…was the first to go. Then the southeast—Division Two—his original territory, had closed all operations. Division One—the Chicago based headquarters territory, was the last to be pared.
His 401K was still with the company, he was still hopeful that they’d bring him back as the economy turned around. Unemployment wasn’t great, but it would at least pay some of his bills. He’d had to scale back on the extravagances that Camille had come to enjoy, but his credit cards were available.
After a hot shower, he turned on the cable news. The hosts were going over the earthquake that had hit the Northwest overnight, and the doubled-down disaster of Mount Rainier erupting at the same time. The reporter at the moment was in Oregon, which had also been hit by the ‘subduction earthquake.’ Doug had never heard of such a thing.
‘Lotta people dead out there,’ Doug thought as he buttered the last English muffin in the package. The two-bedroom apartment had a great kitchen, granite countertops, a big commercial refrigerator, and a big pantry area. He’d never managed though, to get too far beyond enough food for dinner with the girlfriend of the month and some convenience (junk) food. Cammie had managed to fill up part of a shelf in the fridge with yogurt, which Doug despised; and some dried fruit in one of the cupboards. A few frozen burritos, diet frozen dinners, cans of soup that were God knows how old, and some juice concentrate, and that was about it for the kitchen stocks. Doug flipped between channels on the plasma display; found the traditional television networks devoting all the resources of their talking heads to the disaster, along with all their spin-off and subsidiary channels. Even the sports channels were simulcasting the live feeds from New York, L.A., and the reporters trying to get into the disaster area.
“There is simply no way to assess the devastation in the Northwest at this time due to the difficulty getting to the epicenters of the multiple earthquakes and now the airborne hazards of heavy ash fall in much of the Puget Sound area. The magnitude of this earthquake is at least 8.0 in the Puget Sound region, probably higher…..and the fact that a major subduction earthquake has not occurred in several hundred years means that the devastation along the coastlines…and the probability of a tsunami in the Western Pacific as a result…will rival if not exceed the devastation of the Indonesian disaster….”
Doug watched the map of the quake and volcano disaster areas, reaching from southern Oregon through southern British Columbia, across both eastern Washington and Oregon, and into Idaho. He’d had many business contacts in the Northwest….it was almost a certainty that some of them had died. He was interrupted in the channel surfing by his cell phone ringing. His ex-wife’s ring tone; “The Bitch is Back,” by Elton John. It seemed appropriate right after the divorce, but he’d never changed it, despite her kids calling him a few times a year. He was beginning to realize she was right about him…not that he had any intention of changing; he liked his life.
“Hey, Bren. How’s it going?” he said, trying to surprise her with civility. He wasn’t angry anymore…he really didn’t have much emotion toward her at all, he realized.
“Hi, Doug. I…just wanted to make sure you were OK. I thought you might still have that old travel schedule. You would’ve been in Seattle…” She was right, first month of the quarter, middle of the month meant Seattle, then Portland, then San Francisco. He hadn’t had that schedule in eighteen months, since the economy started to really tank.
“I’m fine. I’m in Chicago,” he said, weighing the aspect of breaking the news of his termination. ‘Tell her or not?’ he thought. ‘Not right now,’ he answered himself. “How’re the kids doing?” knowing perfectly well they were doing fine.
“They’re fine. I was just….concerned; that’s all. Kids were, too,” she said, probably correctly.
“The West Coast Division was shut down eighteen months ago,” he said truthfully. “Company’s contracted quite a bit,” he said, not telling her that he’d been part of the contraction.
“OK. I’ll tell the kids, then,” Brenda said.
“Everything OK in Wisconsin?”
“Yeah, actually. Kids took forever to settle into their new schools. They’re playing broomball over on the pond behind the house while they can. Big storm coming in tonight,” she said. She’d remarried about a year after the divorce. The kids had sent a picture taken in front of the house…it looked huge. “Doug, I better go now. Matt will be home any minute.”
“Thanks for checking, Bren. Take care,” he said, meaning it.
“You, too,” she said, and the line clicked off. New husband, new house, new city, new life. He’d stayed in his adopted hometown, she’d moved back to Wisconsin, not far from her parents. He put the phone back into the charging cradle and it rang again immediately…Cammie again.
“Hey, babe—get a flight?” he asked.
“No, and we’re not going to get one. What’s out there at the airport is booked solid. We’re supposed to get a nor-easter’ by tomorrow morning. I’ve been trying everything. It’d be stupid to try to drive.”
“You might be sitting there awhile. Hope you brought a good book.”
“Lakeshore Club is picking up the tab, and this is a five star hotel on Central Park. I think we’ll be well taken care of!”
“Keep me posted.”
“I will! I can’t wait to get home—I have some new things to show you!”
“Really…do tell,” Doug said, knowing exactly what she was talking about.
“Yvonne and I went out last night. We found the greatest little shop! I hope you like black!”
“As long as you’re in it, or out of it…it’s all fine with me,” he said, wondering if another round of phone sex would be on the schedule today.
“I’ll be both,” she said in her distinctive seductive tone. “Have to go now—we’re going to do a little more shopping. Fifth Avenue calls!” she said, giggling.
“We’ll talk later,” he almost got out, as the phone clicked off.
Cammie’s passion was her image, and she took it as seriously as anyone took anything. Her apartment closets were neatly organized by season and color, with matching shoes, handbags, and all the other necessary accessories for a country club personnel director. The two bedroom apartment had no room for guests as the second bedroom had a central island devoted to more clothing storage, as well as lighting that could be adjusted to model the clothes and makeup for the many social functions that she organized.
Doug indulged Cammie as much as he could, which utilized a fair percentage of his discretionary spending on attracting her, landing her, and maintenance. Things came with prices, including relationships. In his dead marriage, he’d allocated perhaps too much money on his own on-the-road entertainment, and not put enough away for retirement or for college funds for the children that Brenda brought into the marriage. The stress of Brenda’s expectations of him financially grew to the breaking point. He realized that she was right, too late of course. No matter now, she was being taken care of the way she expected, her kids were provided for. It had worked out in the end, as things always do. That he was frequently enjoying the company of a supple twenty-seven year old soothed old wounds.
Since the divorce, had become fully vested in the corporate 401K, which he could have done at age twenty-six, instead of forty. The inheritance from his late parents was spread between several high-performance mutual funds, which hadn’t really performed anywhere near as well as his broker had said they would. With Cammie part of his life though, he really didn’t mind. She made him feel much younger, although fourteen years still separated them. He had a long way to retirement, and even with the real estate bubble now deflated, and all the banking bailouts and shenanigans, he was still optimistic about his financial future. As the television continued repeating the same aerial coverage of damage in Portland, and the volcanic cloud aimed like a fire hose at Puget Sound, he thought about his job search plans for the coming week, and his plan to present himself to his prospective employers. He’d filed for unemployment immediately after his exit interview; an ordeal that took three hours and was one of the most humiliating things he’d ever had gone through. He hit the ‘mute’ button on the TV, leaving the reporters to speak with their blank looks to a glass lens.
He’d made a few contacts over the past few days to former clients and a few competing companies, with some potential for interviews in his field of expertise. There were only a handful of major restaurant supply houses in the nation, and fewer that could handle equipment leases and purchase, operation and maintenance; fewer still that could negotiate all the details of supplying large and small restaurants with everything needed to thrive, including contract food production.
Leinhardt National had been one of those firms, an old school, well-respected company that had been slow to adapt to the obvious signs of the economic slowdown; his own V.P. had a long talk about it in his exit interview. Regent Performance Group had moved quicker, reducing their overhead ahead of the real slowdown, positioning their business units to leverage their strengths, and making a few overtures to Doug over a year ago.
He’d spent a few days analyzing the Regent business model, including reverse-engineering their service areas from the locations of national distribution centers. What he noticed is that Regent had radically realigned their service model to serve only the highest performing profit centers. Leinhardt National on the other hand, served virtually all significant population centers, large and small, essentially subsidizing the smaller operations from the large. Where Leinhardt failed was continuing to support the bleeding smaller markets, while not capitalizing on their established marketing presence and branding. Regent was smaller by more than half, but had four hundred percent more national advertising than Leinhardt, and a policy of eliminating any business element that had two successive quarters of lower than projected performance. ‘Brutal, but necessary,’ Doug thought to himself. ‘This isn’t a business for the weak.’
Regent would be the first call on Monday morning. He spent the next hour creating five different resumes, each tailored to the five companies he’d pursue this week. By the time he was done, he realized he was missing the pre-game for the NFC division playoffs. He hit the mute button again, not looking at the screen.
“Unprecedented resources are being routed to the Pacific Northwest for the rescue and recovery effort,” the President said, “and we share your suffering and are mobilizing all available resources to respond to this disaster. National Guard as well as FEMA and regular units of the military are responding at this time in rescue efforts and clearing access roads and stabilizing bridges into the Northwest. Emergency shelters are being set up throughout the region, with evacuations planned in heavily affected areas. Michael Brown, Undersecretary for Homeland Security, will now comment on our current situation from the Homeland Security Headquarters.”
“Good day. The series of earthquakes that struck the Pacific Northwest along with the sudden eruption of Mount Rainier have created an unprecedented emergency in the history of the United States of America.
The nation is faced with tens of thousands of dead, a number that is certain to rise. The physical devastation has destroyed one of the most advanced technological centers in the nation, as well as key elements of our national security and military infrastructure. Rescue teams from around the world are being recalled to home soil at this time with the first teams already on the ground, moving into the Seattle region from the south. Serious damage from the subduction earthquake is present in virtually all of Western Washington and Oregon; southern British Columbia. Secondary earthquakes were triggered within minutes of the initial quake by the main quake, resulting in further damage hundreds of miles inland, well into Idaho.
The quakes were strongly felt from mid California well into Canada, with extensive damage reports from the entire Pacific Northwest and into western Montana. The full extent of the lahar flow that initiated at Mt. Rainier in the initial event is not known at this time, nor is the extent or depth of ash fall in the Seattle region. As we stated earlier this morning, the current low-pressure system is causing strong winds moving from the southeast to the northwest, which has had the effect of directing the majority of the eruption toward the urban areas of King County….”
A half hour later, the NFC Division playoff game started, Packers against the Saints. Snowing at Lambeau, but there were empty seats, unheard of in the regular season, let alone in a playoff. Throughout the game, the commentators broke in with news from the Northwest, and neither team seemed to play with the spark of a potential championship contender. The telecast was free of commercials as well. When there was a break in play, the network went to either the national anchors, now in shirtsleeves and looking as if they’d been up all night, or to regional affiliates. Crawlers on the screen already were asking for donations through the major charities.
“Now they’re saying Monday at the earliest!” Cammie said with an irritating whine.
“Your boss is with you. It’s not like you’re going to have a tough time explaining,” Doug said. She sounded a bit off, he thought.
“I didn’t plan on five days here, and I didn’t bring that many outfits.”
He thought about a proper response, and wisely decided there wasn’t one. The more she talked, the more he realized there seemed to be something wrong.
“Cam, are you OK? Feeling all right?”
“Of COURSE I’m just FINE! I’m stuck here without clothes to wear and we’ve eaten at all the restaurants and I NEED TO COME HOME!” she said with more than irritation, but with anger.
“Well, OK. Just asking,” Doug said, becoming concerned.
“I just don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what to do!”
“Hey, Cam, is Julie there?” Doug asked. Julie Forsythe was the country club manager, and Cammie’s boss.
“Sure. Hang on a sec,” she said, not even questioning why Doug would want to speak with her.
“Hello, Doug?” Julie Forsythe said.
“Hi, Julie. Uh, I’m not sure how to ask this, but is Cammie OK? She sounds, a little ‘off’,” he said.
“Well, I’m fine Doug. Yeah, this delay is really unexpected. I’m hoping we can get home soon,” Julie said. Obviously she couldn’t answer directly.
“Is she having some sort of medical issue?”
“Yes, it sure is coming down outside,” Julie said. “I think it’s probably going to get worse.”
“Can you manage this?” Doug said, increasingly worried.
“I don’t think so, I think the hotel will have to help clear all that snow.”
“I can call the front desk, and contact the concierge. Hopefully they’ll have a house doctor that can drop in. Do you know of any meds she’s on?”
“No, not even remotely,” Julie said. “She just went into the bathroom. Doug, she has a serious problem. I think she’s manic depressive or obsessive compulsive or something. She’s got six outfits that she hasn’t even touched yet. She brought four suitcases for this trip. Have you ever seen her act like this?”
“No. Never,” he said. “Is there anything in her personnel file about this? You’re her boss…”
“Can’t review any of her medical files due to privacy laws, and I’ve only been there five months. Cammie’s been there longer, so I’ve had no reason to look at her file in any detail.”
“I’ll call the concierge when we get off the phone,” Doug said.
“Sounds great! We’ll see you then, Doug. And thanks for everything—here’s Cam,” Julie said, handing the cell phone back.
“Hey, babe. Sorry to hear about your dilemma. Anything I can do?” Doug said, not quite knowing how to deal with the stranger that had his girlfriend’s voice.
“From CHICAGO? Right,” she sneered. “Get real.”
“Just trying to make it easier,” he said, looking for the exit door to the conversation.
“Then SEND ME SOME CLOTHES!” she yelled before ending the call.
“Well, that was pleasant,” he said to the phone. Doug opened up a web browser on his laptop and found the hotel number.
An hour later, Julie called him back. Cammie had resisted talking to the concierge and doctor, but within a few minutes had decided everything was fine, and went with the house doctor to a local hospital.
Doug didn’t get much sleep that night.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
You’re here, reading these words, likely because someone told you about a yarn that follows a family through some exceptionally trying times. The point of writing the story was just to get people to think about what they would do if faced with the trials that the Drummonds found themselves in. The entire effort was supposed to be a short story; one that was limited to the first chapter of Deep Winter.
The readers of that short story wanted more. I obliged. I set targets of five, then ten, then thirty, then sixty chapters. Then a second book, then a third. Now a fourth.
The point is, people are now thinking about what they would do. Not with ‘just’ an earthquake, but if any one of a number of Bad Things come their way. That is the goal, to be ready for whatever life tosses your way. Some things you can control, most things you can’t. There are hundreds of sources out there on ‘bug out bags’ and ‘survivalism’ and ‘prepping’ that include the entire spectrum of knowledge, from good to bad, right to fatally wrong.
I encourage all to use the discernment provided to you by God to judge what is right for you, what must be done, what should be done, what is not necessary. There is no solution that applies to everyone, as everyone’s ‘worst case scenario’ is different. You need to do your own research, you need to learn, you need to act. Sitting in front of a computer reading about what to do is not the same as doing it. Getting ready for whatever takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t. It takes time to gather what is needed, sometimes finding local sources (highly encouraged) rather than getting something from two thousand miles away. So, as the title says, think locally.
‘Rick Drummond’ is all about having options: From shelter, to a way to heat without utilities; for light; for water; for power; for food; for defense. The one constant is his faith. There is no option for ‘Rick and Karen’ or for the author. My faith in God is my strongest and most dependable prep.
To help folks along, here are a few sources of information that I’ve found exceptionally helpful in thinking and acting toward a goal of increasing self-reliance. I’m not promoting them as whole-hearted supporter of every speck of their philosophies, I’m hoping that you use them as a resource for education towards your own goals.
Sources of information like Bob Waldrop’s http://www.energyconservationinfo.org/compendium.htm can quickly fill up your hard drive and kick start your creative process. Seriously—download this stuff. It’s great info. Bob also has a blog that’s worth your time: http://bobaganda.blogspot.com/
http://survivalblog.com/ James Wesley, Rawles is probably the current guru of the survivalist movement, and is the author of ‘Patriots, Surviving the Coming Collapse’ and several other non-fiction resources. I'd recommend some quality immersion time in the archives section at Survivalblog.
http://www.ferfal.blogspot.com/ Want to know what a hyperinflation event looks like from the inside? Fernando has lived it. Spend some time there as well.
http://waltonfeed.com/store I like their ‘resources’ section, but really the whole site is worth some time.
http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/ is a great place to learn and contribute about alllll kinds of things. That said, I’m more of a reader than contributor on that site, unfortunately.
Index of How To Survive Hard Times-- http://www.grandpappy.info/indexhar.htm Again, a good resource, down to earth advice.
http://theepicenter.com/ Remember that really cool little generator that ‘Rick’ built from a small, scrapped Briggs and Stratton engine, a car alternator and a power inverter? This is where you get plans to build one, or buy the bracket to make assembly much easier. http://theepicenter.com/cgi/order.cgi?page=power_sources_generators_and_batteries.html&cart_id=
Financial Guys I Read:
Many folks ask me where I think the financial system is going. Short answer, I think it’s going in the toilet, and have thought so for some time….like, fifteen years, and I’m fifty now. As a youngster, I read a lot of Robert Heinlein, and am re-reading some of his works and finding a warm spot in my heart for the Grand Master. “There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” was apparently not learned by any American in the past thirty years, and danged if the debt doesn’t want to be paid. Here are a couple of key resources that I read on a regular (think, daily) basis:
Karl: http://market-ticker.org/ Karl Denninger’s been all over this mortgage mess for YEARS and has been demanding accountability for the same period of time. I’m not a financial guy. The men and women who populate the forums on the Ticker Forum site (registration required to post) are, and their opinions and views are worth study. When they see a financial tsunami coming, you’d be wise to head for high ground.
Gerald: http://www.geraldcelente.com/ Speaks for himself, well, frequently, and in depth.
Mish: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/ Mish presents technical information in a manner that even I can understand.
Want to be depressed? Punch in the buying power of a dollar here, and see how it has been destroyed over time. You would be wise to invest in non-depreciating assets. http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/ You can also see through some time spent here how the Feral government is cooking the stats.
A number of folks have been asking me about a few obscure references made in the first three books; questions about sources for the material I’m writing about; and if any of the places in the books are, well, real.
Starting with the last one first, yes, most of the places / businesses /vendors that I reference even casually are real, like a vendor of handcrafted soap mentioned in Remnant. The company? Garland Road Soap. http://garlandroadsoap.com/ Great stuff. I bought a bunch of Olga’s soaps for Christmas gifts last year, and I can’t speak highly enough of them.
Other products, like Carhartt clothing, Sorel boots, etc. mentioned in the books because I wear them and they work. Maglite flashlights, too. Most of the clothing I wear around the house/garden/office are what was mentioned in the series, and most of them are bought through Sierra Trading Post, www.sierratradingpost.com on sale. Usually, on a serious sale.
The Railcars In Remnant
A reader asked me where I got the idea for Colonel Drummond's rail mounted brigade. http://idscontainer.com/recovery-solutions.da provided the inspiration for Third Washington’s rail-mounted living and working units. This company has done amazing things with shipping containers. In fiction, I took liberties….
A few readers have asked me some very good questions about the series and other topics. Here are a few for your consideration. Don’t hesitate to ask me something. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll say so….
As I hear of things happening around the world, I try to think of how my husband and I could survive if it happened here in XXXXXX. I'd be very interested in knowing where you go to find survival information. I am a member of MrsSurvival Discussion Forums on the internet, but I can't always find information I'm searching for on there. Plus, some of those women are so extreme on their prepping that I'm put to shame.
Remember that on any internet forum, there are people that "talk" and there are people that "do." There's a fair chance that some of the folks that you think are "ahead" are "talkers." There is no one-size fits all....we're all different and we all have different threat scenarios to think about. Don’t feel put to shame. Ask those that have done it, done it wrong, and learned the hard way. They’ll generally be happy to help you.
Once you begin the process, you should be developing confidence that the ‘basics’ are addressed. Remember, the ‘prep level’ for Northern Michigan is not the same as the ‘prep level’ in central Alabama. You have different cultural dynamics, different climates, different growing seasons. Get the basics taken care of for one major scenario, and many others are taken care of by default. Water. Shelter. Food. Defense, to start with. I’d add (first, in my case) Faith, and last, Finances.
Is your wife as knowledgeable on prepping and into this mode as you are?
Canning/freezing/preservation; inventorying mostly, but she's getting up to speed on many other items....for most of our lives, we didn’t look at is ‘prepping’ we looked at it (and still do) as ‘life’.
I'm so glad my husband agrees with me that we need to be prepared. We're unsure of WHAT will happen first to set things in motion, but we both sense that things are spiraling out of control and we feel an urgency to do what we can, when we can, to get ready.
We started with 'what happens in a power outage?' and then, ‘what happens in a winter power outage that's extended?’
Dark = need lights to get around the house, need the ability to cook food, need the ability to keep food cold until the power comes back on, need water to drink (main water pumps cannot maintain line pressure without power...)
Dark + Cold: All of the above, plus ability to keep house warm/pipes from freezing, store closures due to lack of power, etc.
Once we worked through a scenario like that, then added other Bad Things Happening, it was easy to develop a sense of confidence that the solution for problem A also is the solution for problems E through M, or at least took care of some of the needs....
A lot of people we know seem to think we're going to have a political or economic crisis that will set the ball rolling. Do you have any views on the subject that you can share with me?
I used to look at it in terms of a 'trigger event'. I think now that a single event is probably the wrong way to approach the future. The insidious nature of events over the past five years has crept into our lives and dramatically changed them without a defined point in time being a 'trigger.' In the end, that I think is more dangerous.
We are now faced with more controls of our finances, our freedoms, our communication, and our ability to dissent. Extrapolating what could happen at the rate of change we have seen recently, and in a few years we will not recognize the place......
That said, a financial collapse would happen quickly, and change the entire landscape overnight. Not many people are prepared for that.
I'm a Christian and I went to our Pastor and asked him his views on prepping and he told me that he and his wife try to stock up on what they can. I was surprised, but he told me that he believes God calls some of us to do this, and to be there to help others, and that we don't know the sequence of events that will unfold, so we should be ready for anything.
I agree. We know not the time.
That gave me another "push" to work on our prepping. I've felt a need for about 5 or 6 years to do something, but didn't listen to my inner voice until about 2 years ago. Boy, if I'd listened way back when, I'd be a lot further in my supplies than I am now! With the economy being so bad, it's difficult to find money lying around to go out and buy things to put away, when it's hard enough just to find money to buy our everyday items! But, I keep on struggling along, doing what I can, when I can. My list grows almost daily with things I want to make sure and have on hand, things I want to read up on, things I want to print out, etc. It can sometimes be overwhelming!
The oft-repeated wisdom of 'use what you store, store what you use' comes into play. There are essentials that can be purchased quickly and cheaply, and can buy you some piece of mind as you grow deeper into creating a larder that your grandparents or great-grandparents would recognize. That's really more valuable to me at least, in having 'options' on hand, whether it be food, hardware, clothing, material, or the ability to light and heat the place. And being prepared to defend yourself...
What made you decide to write something like this?
I've read a number of apocalyptic fiction novels, including one that I remember as my first read, "Malevil", written in about 1974--it made a pretty big impression on me (I was in Junior High or High School at the time). Off and on I'd pick up sci-fi novels, but really didn't get hooked on the genre until I read several others a few years later. Some though, were completely unrealistic, the dialog unbelievable; the relationships wooden; the fact that no one had elderly parents or children; and they were 'gear hogs'. Every contingency was accounted for, in duplicate, with weapons and gear.
Other stories were written on another web site that I'd discovered (that has since gone round the bend), and they were good stories, but sometimes left unfinished.
News coming soon on the fourth book 'Distance'. Stay tuned for Chapter One, probably posting next week. (If I didn't have this whole other need to earn a living....)