After the Apocalypse
Chapter 102: In the Field

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Charlie and the boys made some quick but quiet inquiries among the members of the Flock and found a couple who'd actually been to the camp over the years. They were able to determine the exact location of the camp and how to best approach it, but little more. One of them, a propane service man, said the camp wasn't really a camp at all, just a series of cottages for people to sleep in. He'd serviced tanks there a few years earlier, but didn't remember much more than that. When he'd been there, all the gates had been wide open and there were horses and a few cows grazing near the entrance.

Jim Peterson wasn't entirely happy with the whole thing. It wasn't that he felt bad about going after boy scouts, it was more that he felt he'd been lied to. After him and Charlie jumped into one of the two trucks they were driving to camp, he asked Charlie what he thought.

“Well, to be honest Jim, I'm pretty sure we've been lied to. If the Deacon ain't lyin', then I'm sure the Razers are. If they thought these boy scouts would just roll over, I think they'd have gone after them already. After all, we just lost two guys in a couple hundred, they lost two out of twelve.”

Jim hadn't thought about that. “So what do you think's going on?”

“The Deacon isn't going to let his son's death go unavenged. I think he means for us to go down there and kill a few of these guys. If we get the one that did in ol' Nick, that's fine. If we don't, that's probably fine too.”

“So we're just going to go in guns blazing?”

“Well, let's not forget what happened to Nick. He thought he had that guy dead to rights then someone else showed up outta nowhere and now Nick's dead and they're both alive. No, we're not going to go guns blazing. We're going to poke around a bit first, see what's going on, then start shooting.”

Jim wasn't quite sure how to take that, but when Charlie started laughing he didn't want to seem unmanly, so he joined in.

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They arrived near the camp almost an hour later. They parked their trucks alongside the road and began walking towards the camp. They didn't expect to meet any resistance until they reached the horse barns, which they could barely see in the distance. As they moved forward, Charlie motioned and all of them headed into the woods.

They began steering a course roughly southeast, hoping to avoid the open fields they expected to find near the barns and penetrate the camp unseen. They hadn't been off the road long when they spotted their first structure, a large open-air pavilion. They moved up on it slowly and determined that it was empty, then checked the cabin nearby, which a sign proclaimed was called "Pines". It was also empty.

They proceeded this way until they could see the edge of the trees. They veered south to keep their cover, then headed east when they got a chance. They weren't sure what they were looking for, but since they'd come in on the northwest edge of the map, they figured heading southeast was as good a plan as any. They travelled through deep snow for about a mile when they came to a deep gully. To the east they could see a bridge. The bottom seemed wet, but there was no open water. They could see some tracks on the bridge.

The held a brief conference in the shelter of the trees, then decided to risk the bridge. The streambed was probably dry, but a soaker here could become a serious danger. They trailed along the stream in an orderly fashion then went up onto the bridge, across it and back down on the eastern side of the road. The road they cross forked not far from where they were and they decided east more on gut feel than any real factors. They continued to shadow the road, which was now on their right until they came to another fork.

The road continued to meander in a mostly easterly fashion. On the other side, they could see a broad field, a cabin, a lake and a road which appeared to cross the lake and head uphill sharply. There were clear signs, even from here, that both these areas had been well-travelled, but there was no sign of anyone in the area now.

“What do you think,” asked Charlie in a hushed voice. “Check the building, or stay on this road?”

Jim spoke first, “I think we check the building. We're not going to find anyone just following this road.”

“I don't know,” said Saul, “finding out the lay of the land first makes sense. Besides, that open field has 'sitting duck' written all over it.”

“We can follow the road for a bit. I think we can use the building to hide us from the field. Once we're in there, we can see what's what.”

Charlie paused for a moment, then agreed. The five made their way down a bit. Then, with no small amount of trepidation, they crossed the road and moved quickly to the back of the building and through the door.

The site that met them when they entered the building stunned all five into silence. Suspended from the middle of the ceiling was a huge ball of tinfoil. There were many candles around and even more empty cups and glasses. Clearly, there had been a party here. Checking the rest of the area, they found a kitchen which was very well stocked with liquor, two rooms filled with cots, a couple of smaller rooms and two bathrooms.

Charlie stared in stunned silence, as did the rest of his guys. They were interrupted only when they heard the sound of the bottle being poured. Peterson raised his glass to them in a silent toast and drained it quickly.

“C'mon boys, a belt or two won't hurt anything.”

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“John, you might want to get down here. There's some guys in the Trout Lake Building and they look like trouble.”

“Roger that Steve. Hold your position and wait for backup.”

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