After the Apocalypse
Chapter 12: Field Trip
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
When the quartet returned to the BC building they found things in full swing. Ron Donohue and Dan Bollman had taken charge and they were getting everyone settled. In one corner of the dining room, Mark Bollman, Mike Osvath and Doug Wilson were working with an assortment of electronic gear. Gear was being moved and some sheets were being piled up.
"I hope you don't mind," explained Ron's wife Jeanne, "but we decided to try and convert this building into family housing. The heat is better than any of the others, and with the kids, running water is important. It's also closer to the bathrooms."
"Good idea" said Jeff. "Where did my stuff go?"
"I, well we, took it down to Clearwater," said Steve Harig. "We figured you, Mark, and Steve should be there so you'd be close to the center. The rest of the single guys are split up, with about half the youth at High Point and the rest of us at Lang."
"Good," said Steve Donohue, "if we need to, we can make some more internal walls here. There's plenty of canvas up at the barn we could hang. A few dining flys could make this into separate rooms for families."
"I don't think we need to go that far yet," said Jeanne, "after all, for all we know, it's just a power failure. I think we…"
As she spoke she was suddenly interrupted by a loud squealing sound from the corner where Doug, Mark and Mike had been working.
"Turn down the squelch," said Mike, his ears ringing from the sound.
"This unit doesn't have squelch," said Mark. "This isn't a CB, you know, it's a sophisticated ham radio unit." Even as he pointed out Mike's errors, he quickly turned several of the dials on the front of the unit, and the squeal disappeared.
"Okay," said Doug, "just see if you can pick anything up. I'm not sure the power is going to last very long, and I think we need to work on getting the antenna mounted better."
Mark pulled out a battered-looking manual and began dialing in different emergency frequencies. As he came to each one, he listened for a moment, then broadcast his own message. After five minutes, they gave up and shut the radio down. They'd heard nothing but silence on all channels.
"I think we could make some gains if the antenna were mounted higher," said Doug. "This roof mount was fine for local stuff, but I think we're going to have to target a broader range of frequencies if we're going to get anything."
"That's probably true," interrupted Steve. "Why don't you get monkey-boy there to help you with the antenna and the two of you can see if you can improve the power supply. John, why don't you help Mike and Doug?"
"Hey, don't call me monkey-boy," said Tim, his voice rising in anger.
"I didn't mean any offense," replied Steve evenly. "It's just that you climb much better than anyone else."
"Okay," replied Tim, slightly mollified, "but I want to get going soon. Lori's out there somewhere and I want to find her."
"Sure thing," said Steve. "Let me grab some of that antenna cable and then we'll see what we can do about rigging up a better antenna."
As the two of them headed outside, Jeff was talking to Steve Harig and Dave Woods about setting up the ranger alarm. They'd had the alarm at Winter Camp XII and used it to know when the ranger was coming. Jeff talked it over with Steve quietly and then the two of them went outside with Milon, Woods, and Pockets in tow.
Harig recruited a couple of other youth to help and they were soon rolling out wire. Where the original system had relied on Clearwater for a hub, this new one would have to be a little different. They didn't have enough wire to protect all the cabins and still have a central alarm. Instead, they decided to put one sensor near the old corral and the other near Rawhide cabin. Anyone crossing at Rawhide would sound an alarm at High Point and the alarm from the corral would sound at Lang.
Once they were done stringing the wire, Jeff left Woods in charge at Lang, since his gear was there. Heading back to the cabin, he found Jerry Reid and asked him to be in charge at High Point. He sent ten rifles and 100 rounds of ammunition to each cabin, being careful not to let too many people see what was going on. He was concerned that if there really was a nuclear crisis, there could be scavengers and looters around. D-A would probably not be the first place someone tried, but it might not be too long before it became a target.
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