A normal American family was talking mundanely at their dinner table. The house was on the border of a town, next to both other houses and sheer wilderness.
“I don’t think they’ll ever get rid of the penny,” complained Abbey, a young woman.
“Maybe,” said Bill. He wore a camo hat and old grey t-shirt.
“What did she think?” asked Lizzie.
“Shut up, Lizzie,” complained Sam, a ten year old boy. His grandfather heard what he said and slowly turned his head, menacingly.
“What did you just say, Sam? You have to learn your manners. Give me a stick.” Sam knew what was coming. He made up his mind.
“No,” he replied. His grandpa, quick as a leopard, walked over, grabbed him, and spanked him furiously.
“These stupid kids, never listen to authority,” he said. Abbey looked at him like he was evil. Bill also did not look very happy.
“What are you doing to him? You’re not a real grandpa!” hissed Lizzie, with improbable venom. “You’re a grumpa!” The girl took pride in her hasty nickname, and smiled triumphantly. Grumpa narrowed his eyes. He took a sip from his “BEST GRANDPA EVER!” coffee mug. After he realized things were going nowhere, he conceded and walked away slowly.
Grumpa collapsed onto a couch and opened a bottle of 14% alcohol barleywine.
His family occasionally took a glance at him and noticed his defeated and bitter eyes.
He had flashbacks of his horrible childhood, in the woods surviving alone to avoid his family, having no food to eat for days except that which he hunted himself, and getting lashed by his strict father for things he didn’t do. The old man put his empty bottle down and walked upstairs solemnly. The family talked pleasantly about many different things.
After a pause, Grumpa brought his .48 magnum downstairs and showed Bill, somewhat privately.
“It’s a .48 magnum, for when a .44 ain’t enough.”
“Not bad,” replied Bill, raising his eyebrows, noting the shiny stainless steel of the bulky sidearm. Abbey saw it and immediately retched.
“That’s disgusting. What are you doing pulling that out when there’s kids around? What if it backfires?”
“It ain’t loaded,” replied Grumpa, dusting her off.
“How are you sure?” asked Abbey. Grumpa pointed it at her and pulled the trigger. It clicked. He smiled triumphantly.
“Leave it upstairs,” she demanded. He hesitantly gave in. As Grumpa walked towards the staircase, he saw a headline about a communist invasion and saw fast-paced scenes of panic on the news channel.
“It’s all a bunch of bullcrap,” complained Grumpa. “They needs more viewers and that’s what they’re gettin’. Bullcrap.” His cousin walked into the living room.
“I don’t think so,” argued Bill. “It seems like it’s really happening. I know those Soviet commies finally got the nerve to do it. But we’ll beat their asses.”
“I worked on a cattle farm. I know what bullcrap is,” said Grumpa. “This is bullcrap.” Abbey, looking at the television from the kitchen, was scared but slightly excited.
“It is scary… but picture the improved labor and corporate laws we would get,” she admitted.
“Only labor laws they has is ‘work your ass off in the gulag'” said Grumpa, spitting. They were quiet.
“I’m hittin’ the hay,” said Grumpa. Bill waved goodnight.
The next morning, Grumpa saw even worse news reports about the Communists invading their state of Oregon by the boatload, having taken off from a port of the other side of Alaska. The power went out suddenly, leaving a nervous and viscerally horrifying feeling in the air. The other family members were in the kitchen, conversing in a slightly nervous way. They ignored Grumpa.
The old man walked outside to take a piss. He walked deep into the woods behind his property.
“Why waste a gallon of water fer’ a cup a piss?” he always said. There was a loud racket as armored vehicle after armored vehicle came in from the west.
“Soviets. Shit,” complained the old man. He knew it from their camouflage. As soon as he zipped up his jeans, he ran back into the house.
Five Soviet grunts had lined his family up in front of their wall and were preparing to shoot them. Grumpa gets out of the bathroom.
“Y’all communists can go to hell!” yelled Grumpa, pulling out his .48 magnum from his belt holster. He aimed it quickly on the head of the first soldier and pulled the trigger just as he spun around to aim at Grumpa. The bullet smashed through three of the soldier’s heads, as they were all in a row. The elderly man shot the other two within a second.
“More reds are a’ comin’!” said Grumpa hastily. Outside, another armored personal carrier stopped right in front of the house to investigate the gunfire. Before anyone knew what was happening, Grumpa ran off to the kitchen and came back with a mason jar full of moonshine, a rag, and a lighter.
He lit the rag, and as the front door opened, the old man lobbed it right at the squad of soldiers, setting them on fire.
“Come on! follow me,” said Grumpa, walking towards the back door and not wasting a second. His family was too paralyzed to do anything at all, and were still trying to get over their near-death experience, except little Sam, who ran quickly after Grumpa.
They left the house and entered the edge of the woods. There were more commies getting out of their vehicles on the main road. Grumpa reloaded and shot a few, but one of their gunners spotted them and fired a machine gun at them.
“Drop!” shouted Grumpa, knowing how to properly yell from being in the Marines. When he stopped shooting, they ran further into the woods to avoid death.
They lived out in the woods for a day and Grumpa showed Sam how to shoot. He saw a rabbit and shot it, killing it instantly.
“How are you gonna skin it? We don’t have any knives,” said Sam, hopelessly.
“Stop complainin’ kid,” replied Grumpa, pulling a knife out of his gun. “It’s custom-made,” he explained. He started a fire with gunpowder from a bullet cartridge and ignited it by shooting a piece of metal next to it.
“This is gross. How can I eat it?” said Sam, sad.
“It’s this or nothin,'” replied Grumpa. Hesitantly, the child ate three bites. It was surprisingly good considering the circumstances.
“Where’s the family?” he asked, worried.
“We don’t know and it don’t matter.”
They slept under the clean sky and millions of stars. The moon was a bright crescent.
In the morning, Grumpa gave Sam a pep talk.
“We don’t know if we’ll be here an hour or a year, but you can’t forsake your family. I’m going in deep into enemy territory. I’m seeing if they’re still alive. What are you doing?”
Sam didn’t know what to do. He decided to compromise between being courageous and being cautious.
“I’ll stay close to you, but I’m not going out of the woods,” he said. They found Bill camped out a hundred yards into the woods. He hugged Grumpa, who felt quite awkward.
“Are the others still alive?” he asked.
“No,” replied Bill, wiping his eye. Grumpa looked downtrodden.
Grumpa walked up and could see the house in the distance. There were no people in sight. He heard propellers off in the distance and saw a gargantuan Soviet bomber cruising through the sky, dropping bombs by the bucketload.
“No!” he said. “Sam, come!” Sam ran over speedily. “Get a log!” ordered Grumpa. Sam procured one in ten seconds and laid it down in front of his grandfather.
He steadied his revolver on it, laying down like a sniper. He was in perfect control of his body and breath.
“Three thousand yards away, fifteen degrees to the right, four hundred and thirty inches of drop… two thousand five hundred yards, twenty degrees, five mile an hour wind…” Grumpa put two hundred percent of his focus into steadying his firearm.
“Two thousand one hundred yards… three mile and hour wind, two miles… There it is!” Milimeter by milimeter, he pulled the trigger, until BANG! the shot whizzed through the air, gradually traveling a mile before it collided miraculously with the cockpit of the bomber. Just as the aircraft flew close enough to drop a bomb over the family’s house, the pilot turned the plane around quickly. Black smoke poured out of it and it started to drift downwards.
“That’s the end of that,” said Grumpa. Not long later, there was a huge explosion two and a half thousand yards away. “What goes up must come down.”
Bill and Sam looked at him and smiled.