After the Apocalypse
Chapter 100: First Impressions
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
Miller was surprised at how well his infiltration was going. He was also somewhat surprised at how deeply he'd been able to penetrate the camp before being noticed. Admittedly, the reception he had received had been more than sufficient to handle a single man, such as himself, but it was clear the campers weren't maintaining a very tight perimeter around the camp. He walked along with the others, hoping they'd chatter and give away more information, but it wasn't to be. All he'd heard since his capture was Ron radioing base to tell them they had one guest with them.
As they walked, he noticed another group of campers was putting together a makeshift barn around an old pavilion. They'd already fenced the area in and were working on creating a shelter of some sort. He thought to himself they'd have been better served to use the existing barn, then realized why they weren't - it must not have been in their secure perimeter. He filed that information away as part of what he'd report to Sumner. If they weren't watching them, the barns and other outbuildings he'd passed on his way into the camp would make a great staging area if a strike became necessary.
The road they were on dipped down precipitously as they went past the makeshift barn. There was another fork which went uphill and appeared to lead to the lake. Nestled atop it was another cabin which appeared to be occupied. There were a lot of standing buildings in this camp, something the Razers might have to take care of to avoid further bombings. By his count he'd already seen more than a dozen buildings of assorted shapes, sizes and purposes. He was certain he'd seen only a small portion of the camp and couldn't believe how much of it had been spared - it barely looked lie it had been damaged.
He noticed a trail leading off to the left, but they ignored it and continued walking along the road around the base of the dam. He wondered where the trail might go but reasoned that his captors were unlikely to show him any of their shortcuts. He'd have to watch for a likely end to the trail when they got him to their base.
The road they were on cut a wide arc along the base of the dam then made one more sharp turn and he could see another cabin ahead of him. He was surprised to see a number of small children, some of whom he thought might be as young as four mixed in with the group. There were about twenty children in all playing some sort of game with a large ball. They were under the watchful eyes of at least a dozen adults and older children. As he and his escorts approached, the game abruptly stopped and he felt all of them staring at him. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
He was slmost glad when they avoided most of that group and headed to a smaller cabin across the road from the large one. He noticed a trail which led in the general direction he'd come in and decided that was likely the spot for the trail he'd seen earlier to end. It certainly seemed to have a lot of traffic. He was led into the building and shown to a chair.
If the group that brought him to camp had been a little gruff, they were no match for the men who watched him now. He tried to size them up to identify what he was up against. They were mostly in their thirties, although he was certain that Ron, who had helped bring him in, was a little older. Likewise, the one-armed man standing near the other door of the cabin was older as was the dark-haired man seated on a nearby bunk. He assumed one of them was the leader, since they were a little older and that was how things generally worked in the military which, he was certain, was a lot like the Boy Scouts.
It seemed like an eternity while he sat there, but it couldn't have been more than a minute. Four more people came in, a teenage girl, an elderly woman and two more men. One of the men had a bushy hair and beard and the other was clean-shaven with a high and tight. He began re-evaluating who might be in charge. The two women quietly shook their heads and left. He guessed they were the Coopers sent to see if they recognized him. At least he'd passed the first test.
The questions came hot and heavy and from a variety of sources. Miller sought at first to ignore the harder ones, but soon realized that they weren't being forgotten, only delayed. He decided the best course was to answer them as they came rather than look like he was hiding something. When he was through, he felt certain of two things. First, these guys had bought his story, but were still dubious and second, they were not people to be trifled with - their questions had gone to details a number of times and it appeared that none of them had been missed. In particular, he had identified Ron and the bushy-bearded guy (whose name turned out to be Mark) as being very sharp. He was also certain that Jeff, the one-armed guy, and John, the high-and-tight guy, were eager to see him evicted (or worse) at the first sign of trouble.
He was assigned temporary quarters at High Point and two guys named Tim and Dave were assigned to watch him. His brief experience told him he was in trouble. Most of these guys were damn smart, smarter than the guys in his militia unit; he'd never heard of a special scouting program for geniuses before, but he was pretty sure he'd met a number of its members. He also had a feeling that they would put up a hell of a fight if anyone tried to encroach on their territory. His hopes were further sunk when it became clear that he was, at least for the moment, under twenty-four hour guard.
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