After the Apocalypse
Chapter 23: Room At The Inn

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

"Okay, where have we got room for fifteen more people?" asked Tom Ray. The rest of the Girl Scout contingent was on their way, and decisions needed to be made. "Where's there a cabin for them that we can keep decently heated, and how much further out can we afford to expand?"

"Chippewa would be the next logical cabin," said Doug. "It's next up the road, practically in Beaver Creek anyway, and it's set up to sleep 36. Fifteen wouldn't even be a challenge. Plus, it's still within the boundary of the alarm system."

"How workable will that be as far as temperature goes?" asked Katie. "Fifteen women in a building built for 36, without heat-is there any smaller option?"

"Nothing as close to the rest of us," said Mike.

"You might be able to close off one side and keep people warmer that way," said Doug. "We could probably rig up a screen with some of the canvas. Chippewa's split into two bunkrooms of 18 each. You could set up in one and use the other half for storage or whatever. At least the body heat would be concentrated at night, which would help."

"I'd like to suggest another option, something that might be a good idea for a lot of us to consider," said Dave Woods. "We've been wrestling with all of these heat questions, and we're overlooking the fact that Trout Lake cabin has a fireplace and a bigger kitchen than we have here, and 52 beds. That's a lot of advantages. The only down side is the water factor and the distance situation."

"That's two down sides," said Tom.

"Okay, two," grinned Dave. "But still, that's a small price to pay for better heating. Maybe we should ask some of the wives and families what they think about moving up there."

"Traveling back and forth could be a problem, since we can't all fit up in that cabin," said Doug. "Remember, we're not likely to be getting any more gas for the cars, and I don't think a lot of people are going to want to be doing a lot of walking if the weather turns worse."

"I don't know if it's such a good idea either," said Jeff. "Sure, Trout Lake is a little better equipped. But I think we need to keep our thoughts on the outside world. If there are other survivors-and I don't see any reason to believe that we're the only ones who've managed to make it-then eventually they might look to invade the Ranch for some sort of supplies. They'll be desperate, and probably heavily armed. And if we're in Trout Lake, and they come in by the camp roads-which they probably will, 'cause there's no real sense in coming through the woods-well, we're a little closer to the front up there. Why don't we ask the others how they feel about being transferred about a mile nearer to possible harm?"

Mark Hunt was troubled by that speech. He was still pretty certain that Jeff was overreacting to things, but on the other hand, there was undeniably a measure of common sense in what he was saying, and he didn't see any point in objecting right now. "Maybe that's not something we need to decide immediately," he said, treading a fine line. "After all, it's not so very frigid that heat is a problem yet. If things change, if the weather gets worse-"

"Nuclear winter?" asked Dave.

"I was thinking 'moving cold front', but the details don't matter," Mark continued. "If the weather gets worse, we can probably revisit this idea. No need to disrupt anything just yet."

Mark's comments made a lot of sense, and while the Trout Lake option had been planted in several key minds, the choice to remain in Beaver Creek subcamp was affirmed. A caravan was dispatched to Camp Metamora to collect the remaining Girl Scouts, and the Winter Campers began preparing Chippewa cabin for its new occupants.

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