This scene was partially inspired by a job I once had building barbed wire fences in South Dakota. It was a bit of an adventure. One time, a tractor pinned me against a fence. Fortunately, it was a bitterly cold day, and I was wearing so many layers that I didn’t get hurt. Another worker struggled to back the tractor up a slippery slope far enough to allow me to escape from between the tractor and the barbed wires.
This section originally appeared between chapters fifty-one and fifty-two of The Great Apocalypse:
Las Vegas Search Warrant
A group of four federal agents in an SUV drove down the gravel road leading to the site of Koen Ramsey’s bonfire. They came to a newly installed barbed wire fence with two armed guards. The federal government had decided to serve this search warrant in the normal manner, with a strict adherence to traditional protocol. What wasn’t traditional was the massive presence of armed personnel in the vicinity who were standing by to deal with any resistance or unexpected contingencies.
The presence of armed guards at the entrance was a concern, but they were smiling and appeared to be in a jovial mood. The driver opened his window while one of the guards approached. The driver said, “We’re here to serve a search warrant.”
The guard said, “We know. We’ve been expecting you. The lawyers inside told us to extend you every courtesy. Would you like us to call a van to transport you to the main building? It’ll save your nice shiny vehicle from getting dusty.”
“No. Thank you. We’ll drive ourselves.”
“Well, at least let us come with you. We’d be happy to keep you safe. There’s rattlers and cattle out there. And you might need someone to open and close the gates.”
“That won’t be necessary. We’ll be fine, but would you mind opening that gate for us?” The gate wasn’t solid. It was a simple modification of the barbed wire fence itself. The wires from one side of the fence continued across the gravel road. However, instead of being directly connected to the post that marked the next section of fence, the wires terminated at a freely moving post that was connected to the solid post by a set of wire loops.
“Sure thing, but you might want to watch how I open the gate because there’s a few more down the way. City folks sometimes have trouble with them. I don’t know why. They’re about as complicated as falling out of a tree.”
The guard sauntered slowly to the fence and demonstrated the process as though he were talking to a preschooler. “First, you grab hold of this post here and apply some pressure. Then you can pull off this loop of wire like this.” He performed the motions slowly in order to avoid confusion. “Don’t forget to pull the post out of the loop near the ground. Now that the end of the gate is free, carefully swing it in a wide arc away from your vehicle. You don’t want the wires to get tangled.”
The agents drove through the open gate. They didn’t stop to watch the guard repeat the demonstration in reverse.
After a few minutes, they came to another gate. The driver asked, “Who feels up to the challenge?” The agent behind him jumped out. It should be simple, he thought. Then he noticed two video cameras mounted on fence posts on both sides of the gate.
He grabbed the free post and applied some pressure, but the wire loop refused to loosen enough to allow him to pull it off. The wires seemed to be strung as tight as guitar strings. He pushed as hard as he could with one hand while he tried to remove the wire loop with the other. Eventually, it let loose. He was pleased with his accomplishment, even though the barbed wire snagged his pants. He swung the post in a wide arc, as suggested.
The SUV drove through. Another agent jumped out to help him put the gate back. There was too much riding on the operation to allow unnecessary delays. The two agents discovered that opening a gate of this design was easier than closing it in about the same way that letting a cat out of a bag was easier than putting it back in.
A few cattle were watching the spectacle with curiosity. It wouldn’t do to let the cattle out. For all they knew, those video cameras might be broadcasting their actions online. A third agent, growing impatient, came out to help them. They told him to go back and look for some rope. All he could find were some jumper cables. They used one to tie the gate shut and kept the other in reserve.
The next gate was even tighter. However, the strength of two agents plus a third using a wrench as a pry bar was enough to open it without delay. The remaining jumper cable was used to close it again.
Their system worked just as well on the final gate, with the exception that one of the agents had to use his tie in lieu of jumper cables.
Finally, they came to the parking lot that was used for Koen Ramsey’s party. They parked and walked down the crushed gravel path to the familiar white building. Four lawyers came outside. Three of them were holding video cameras. The lawyer with two free hands greeted the agents before they were able to say why they were there. “Welcome. May I see the search warrant? It’s just a formality. I’m sure everything is in order.”
One of the agents handed him the warrant.
“I’ll have to spend some time reviewing this. I’m a lawyer; that’s how I earn my keep. However, we won’t stand in your way if you want to get started.”