After the Apocalypse
Chapter 17: Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Mark, John, Mike, and Doug continued to try to stabilize the batteries they were using to power the radio set, and they were making good progress. They were severely hampered by their lack of serious tools, like an oscilloscope, until Dave Woods suggested they use a cassette player for testing. His logic, which proved sound, was that if the tape played at the correct speed, they would be close to the correct frequency for the output. The four of them were working rapidly, scribbling notes and occasionally disagreeing over the exact impedance of a capacitor.

As they continued their work, Jeff worked with Ron to better organize the kitchen. They also began combing the recipe books looking for innovative recipes to use to cook franks. Dinnertime was coming and the two of them set about the familiar task of preparing supper. Luckily, the kitchen at Beaver Creek had been remodeled a few years earlier and things went pretty smoothly.

As the search cars left camp, the youths who had been moved to High Point quickly settled their gear into their new surroundings. They then gathered outside and began tossing a Frisbee around. The main work was being done at Beaver Creek and Clearwater, and it was clear that not everyone was needed to establish the new facilities. Indeed, it seemed as though more people congregating at the main cabins would simply be in the way.

The games lasted only briefly before a sense of melancholy gathered over each group. The High Point crew returned to their cabin and talked about what seemed to be going on.

"Do you really think that the world's been destroyed?" asked Paul Lambert, talking to no one in particular.

"Hard to say," said Jerry. "That's really a drastic conclusion, and it's hard to believe that something that massive could have happened without affecting us too much. But…nothing else really fits."

"You're right," said Jared Thompson. "The power's been off for a long time, the clouds are so much thicker than usual, and Mark and Ozzie haven't been able to find anything on the radio. No matter what's happening, it's really, really big."

Meanwhile, Mark Hunt packed up his things from Clearwater and began carrying them towards High Point cabin. Woods had been placed in charge at Lang, but no one had really taken control at High Point yet. With the other Mark, Jeff, Steve, and several others having been added to the Clearwater contingent, the cabin was pretty crowded. He had decided to move up to High Point and make sure the kids up there didn't get into too much trouble.

He was surprised to find the cabin strangely silent when he entered. There were several kids in the cabin sitting at the tables and it was clear he'd somehow interrupted whatever conversation they'd been having.

"Hope you guys don't mind, but I'm planning on bunking here for a while. Too many mossboys down at Clearwater," he said. He paused for a moment, then continued, "So, what's going on up here, anything interesting?"

"No," came the reply, though it was clear it was a lie.

"Really, K2? I thought you guys might be talking about what we're going to do next."

Keith King paused for a second, then began to speak, "We're just worried, you know, about our parents and families and stuff. Plus Jeff gave Woods and Jerry guns and stuff. Do you really think we'll need them?"

"Jeff's a little out there I think," said Mark. "I don't know about parents, but I guess if we survived whatever happened, they could have too. I think Rand's getting a little carried away. If it weren't for the glow and the dead radios, I'd almost chalk this up to some sort of prank."

"So you don't think we're in danger?"

Mark weighed his options for a moment. It was clear that they were in danger and he seriously doubted that anyone's parents were alive. He wasn't sure if he should lie to them or not; normally, he didn't like to lie, but this might be a special case. "I think we'll be okay as long as we stick together and don't get freaked out. Just think of this as being snowed in or something. I'm sure once Lou and Steve get back we'll find out things on the outside aren't that bad."

"I hope you're right," said K2, and the rest murmured in agreement. Mark was glad that Keith had decided to believe him, although he suspected K2 knew the truth. He wasn't dumb, but he might be playing the game for the rest of the kids, several of whom looked up to him.

"So, who's gonna move to a top bunk," asked Mark. "Don't make me 'peck' you," he joked and they all had a good laugh. One of the younger campers, Aaron Montroy, moved his stuff to a top bunk and Mark began packing his stuff away. Once his gear was squared away, he checked his watch; it was only 4:00. He figured there was at least an hour and a half until dinner, maybe more.

"Anybody up for a quick round of WCW?" he asked. Several of the youth nodded in agreement and he pulled out a battered rulebook and a couple of notecards from his gear. WCW (Winter Camp Wrestling) was part of the Winter Camp Athletic System, a group of games designed to simulate Winter Camp activities and the athletic abilities of Winter Campers. The first entry, Tabletop Soccer, had been played only once, but WCW had caught on at Winter Camp XXII and had been pretty popular ever since.

Unlike soccer, the WCW had some role-playing aspects and was an individual competition. It had been designed primarily by Steve Donohue and was based, albeit rather loosely, on a game called En Garde. In WCW, each player controlled a wrestler and the goal was two-fold: first, one tried to win as many matches as possible and secondly, one vied for increased status in the form of TV time. There were a variety of ways to get status, nearly all of which allowed players to posture outrageously.

An hour later, Mark's watch beeped alerting him that dinner was nearly ready.

"Let's get going," he said, "Dinner must be almost ready."

"Just one more turn," said Aaron. "All I need is 3 more status points and I get to be the TV Champ."

"Why don't we finish up after dinner?" said Keith. "I think we'd better be on time; I don't want everyone's wife and kids pissed off at us."

Everyone, including Aaron, reluctantly agreed and the seven of them pulled on coats and boots and headed down the hill to the Beaver Creek building.

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