After the Apocalypse
Chapter 36: Return To Lapeer

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Lou slowed the truck to a crawl as they neared the State Police post. It appeared that it had collapsed since their last visit, not surprising given that most of it had been pretty badly damaged in their first pass. Steve had wanted to stop and search for more ammunition, but that seemed out of the question now. Lou had just begun to accelerate, when they noticed that Mark and Brian had stopped.

"What's going on?" asked Lou over the radio.

"Something doesn't look quite right," replied Mark. "Didn't you guys say the back of the building was destroyed and the front had mostly stayed up?"

"Yes."

"Well then why does it look like most of the rubble fell forward? Shouldn't the wall have caved backwards?"

Lou looked at Steve who just shrugged before replying "We don't really know."

"Neither do we, maybe we should check it out."

"Well, I suppose we have a few minutes," replied Lou.

The four of them parked and moved cautiously toward the ruined building. All four were wearing bulletproof vests and carrying shotguns; everyone but Steve also carried a pistol belted at his waist. As they made their way through the ruins, Mark paused and looked at a few larger chunks of brick that lay in the path.

"This doesn't make any sense," he said. "Some of this brick looks like it's been in a fire, but there weren't any fires, were there?"

"It didn't look like it last time."

"You know," said Mark, "if I didn't know better, I'd say someone or something had blown this place up. The marks on the bricks, the fact that the rubble seems to be thrown too far from the building-it all looks like some kind of an explosion."

"Could it have been a fire of some sort?" asked Steve, hoping that Mark's experience as a fireman would solve their dilemma.

"I don't think so. There's nothing here to contain a fire; there wouldn't be an explosion unless the fire were somehow deprived of oxygen, then suddenly got too much of it. Besides, there's not much fire damage, just a lot of what looks like smoke damage."

Steve nodded in agreement, "Whatever happened here, we had better assume someone did it deliberately and keep an eye out for them. It's possible they've mined the road with explosive charges as well."

"I don't think so," said Lou, "there wouldn't really be a good way to hide the charges. I think if that's happened we'll be able to see it. Besides, if they had dynamite and wanted to keep us out, why wouldn't they have blown the overpass? That would have made one hell of a barrier."

"Probably true. Okay, let's get back in the cars, but keep the windows down and the shotguns handy; we might have to fight or run before we're through here today."

Mark didn't like the tone of Steve's voice, but he held his tongue. He wished he was riding with Lou so they could talk it over. He was afraid that Steve was spoiling for a fight. Whoever was out here was a survivor too, just like them. It didn't seem like fighting other survivors was a good idea. They needed to make friends, band together, and try to work things out. It seemed like Steve had lost sight of that. He didn't know Brian nearly as well and wasn't sure what he'd say, so he kept his mouth shut.

"Hey, is it just me, or is Steve a little too gung ho about this thing? I mean, I know we need to survive and all that, but what about the Scout Oath and Law", asked Brian. "You know him a lot better than I do, is this normal?"

"Uhm, not really. He gets like this during gaming sometimes, but that's not life." Mark was relieved that Brian had brought it up. It not only gave him a chance to talk about it, but also helped convince him he wasn't just over-reacting.

"Well, we'd better keep an eye on him. Maybe killing a man has made him a little nuts."

"Yeah, I think you're right. When we get back, I think I'm going to talk to Ron about the whole thing; if anyone can figure out what's going on in Steve's head, it'll be him."

They drove in silence another five minutes or so to the nearest gas station, where they parked near the storage tanks. Lou pulled the trailer with its fuel tank near to the refueling valve. They unscrewed the cap and lowered a hose all the way to the bottom. Mark held the other end of the hose over their tank and Brian started the electric pump. The whirring sound was all they heard for several long seconds and they were afraid it wasn't going to work, but after about thirty seconds, gasoline finally started pouring into the tank.

While Brian and Steve continued to fill the tank, Mark and Lou checked out the gas station. They managed to salvage a few 8-packs of pop and a case of motor oil, but that was about it. The station looked as though it were infested with rats or something as most of the candy and chips had been torn open and eaten right on the spot. After about 20 minutes of work, the big tank was completely full. At Mark's suggestion, they filled their own fuel tanks before they packed their pump and hose and resealed the storage tank.

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