After the Apocalypse
Chapter 11: Scavenger Hunt

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

In the end, Steve and Jeff joined John and Dave Milon for their trip to the barn. Dave Morosky, the head ranger at D-A, had entrusted Steve with the keys before leaving camp. Jeff tagged along because there were several items he was interested in finding and he wanted to have a look for himself in case there were some other items of interest.

Arming themselves with flashlights, the four started by searching the storage shed on the east side of Ranch Road. Most of the program materials were stored there and that would certainly include any rifles, shotguns or bows to be had in camp. If that didn't pan out, their backup plan was to check the shop and then the rangers' homes for weapons. Dave wanted to look there first, figuring the rangers would have "the good stuff", but the others had talked him out of it. At the moment, they had only suspicions and no one wanted to look foolish as they explained to the rangers that when the lights went out they decided to break into their homes.

There were plenty of tents and cots in the barn along with more tools and rope than seemed completely necessary. Stored in the closets, they found the weapons they were seeking, including forty-eight .22 caliber rifles, six 12-gauge shotguns and thirty-five bows. There were plenty of arrows, but the ammunition for the guns was lacking. They found 300 rounds for the .22's and only 50 shotgun shells. If, as they suspected, they might be trapped here for a long time, then ammunition was likely to be a problem.

As the others began carrying weapons and ammunition to Dave's jeep, Jeff continued to prowl around the barn, looking for other items that might prove useful. Eventually, he began dragging some large wooden boxes he'd found into the middle of the room.

"Think one of those will make a good 'X'?" asked Steve, baffled by Jeff's actions.

The others chuckled at the reference. Years earlier, the four of them had gone hunting for pioneering poles during Winter Camp and many of the ones Jeff selected had been rejected by the other three as too small or insubstantial to be useful. Jeff's reply to their criticism had been uniform-"This one will make a good X", he'd say, and add it to the pile. The eventual project they'd built, a double inverted-pyramid tower, had not had a single diagonal brace, but the X pieces had made good firewood later in the weekette.

"No, but I'm hoping one of them will have some merit badge books in it. There's a lot of good advice in those books, and I'm really hoping to find a Geology book."

"Don't you think this is a stupid time to be looking up rocks and stuff?" interrupted Dave.

"No," said Jeff, in an exasperated tone. "The Geology book has plans for making your own Geiger counter. If there really is radiation, it might be a good idea for us to start measuring our exposure; it might also be useful to know just how widespread the radiation is. Perhaps we can even mark a safe perimeter."

"Do you think we'll have the things we need to make it work," asked John, suddenly interested in the idea.

"I'm not sure. I know I built one when I was fourteen, so I don't think the parts were too hard to come by. Either way, we'll never know unless we find the book and look."

Steve looked around and found a heavy axe. He returned and smashed open the first box by striking the hasp of its lock with the back of the axe.

"Uhm, what about the part where we didn't want to do anything rash we'd have to explain to the rangers," asked Dave.

"Oh yeah," said Steve, somewhat sheepishly. "I forgot, besides, I've always wanted to do that."

"Well, if it's out of your system, perhaps we could use the key on the rest of them," suggested Jeff. "Besides, having a lockable box may come in handy."

The first three boxes they opened were from a scoutcraft area. They contained a variety of leather-working and woodcarving tools as well as an assortment of craft project kits and other odds and ends. The fourth box turned out to be from the nature area, and the Geology pamphlet was nestled in a corner. They pulled it out and took a quick look through it.

"Nothing Doug can't handle," said Dave.

"No, I imagine not," said Jeff somewhat annoyed at Dave's tone. "Since I built one when I was a kid, I'm sure I could build one again."

Jeff tucked the book inside his coat and the four of them headed back out to Dave's waiting jeep.

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