After the Apocalypse
Chapter 40: Christmas Part II

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

As Lou, Steve, Mark and Brian passed the wreckage of the I-69 overpass, it began to snow. At first, it was a light snow, but after a few minutes, it began to snow more heavily, threatening at times to turn into a blizzard. They were able to talk to each other on the FM's, but the storm, which also produced a number of flashes of lightning, kept them from contacting the camp to let them know they were on their way.

Back at camp, as darkness mounted, some of the others became worried about the scavengers. They had planned to be back no later than 5:30 and, even allowing for the weather, they should have been back in camp before 7:00, but they weren't. After dinner at the Beaver Creek building, there was a steady buzz of conversation, most of which centered around who should mount a rescue effort. Milon and Hunt felt they should do it because of their experience with the previous trip, but Lori didn't look too happy with the idea of sending her husband out into the storm. Eventually, it was decided that Woods and Hall should go, figuring the two of them could take Dave's truck and some tools and either fix whatever problem the foursome were having or transfer the goods to Dave's truck and bring them all back.

Joe and Dave were, in fact, getting dressed for the trip when they finally heard a faint squawk from the radio. Ron moved quickly to pick it up, turning up the volume as he did so.

"Attention BC, this is Rover, do you hear us?" came the voice, unmistakably Lou's.

"Roger," replied the Beast, "go ahead."

"We just turned onto the road, we should be back in another half hour."

"Which road?" asked the Beast, wondering if they could do something to help expedite their return.

He waited for a few minutes, but there was no answer. He chalked it up to the storm and turned to announce loudly that the four would be back in a few minutes. A muffled cheer went up from the group. Dave and Joe looked a little disappointed at missing their chance to come to the aid of their fellows, but they dealt with it.

"Sorry, Lou, I just didn't want to announce which road we were on."

"What? Why not?"

"I just think there might be others out there listening and some of them might not have our best interests at heart."

"Okay, next time, why don't you tell me that before you knock the radio out of my hand?"

"Look, I said I was sorry, I just didn't think of it until that moment."

Lou knew Steve well enough to suspect the Big Man was lying. He didn't say anything, resolving instead to discuss it with Jeff and Ron when they got to camp.

Half an hour later, they passed Lang cabin on their way to Beaver Creek. Harig and Reid, working the checkpoints, waved them in, then decided to follow them to see if they could help with the unloading of what was obviously a very full trailer. By the time they had walked down to the cabin, the unloading was in full swing, and it looked like a fairly bustling operation. Nearly everyone in camp was involved, and the trailer and both cars were emptied into the cabin in a matter of just a few minutes.

Mark Bollman, noting the boxes, bags and crates stacked on every horizontal surface, said "So, this is what the setup day looks like."

It took a moment for people to get it, but the laughter was genuine, at least on the part of many of the old-timers. Mark had been to all but one Winter Camp, and his parents' home had become the designated meeting point for camp many years earlier. It was his duty to miss the setup day in order to coordinate rides and departures. It had also become his duty to go by Donohue's and pick up the many items Steve was likely to have forgotten the previous day.

Without thinking, Lou raised his hand to the Scout sign and soon the group was silent. "We've had a good trip," he said, "and we've managed to find pretty much everything on the shopping list."

"I don't remember any dogs being on the list," interjected Joe Hall, who was trying, with some difficulty, to prevent Eureka from licking his face. Most of the group got a chuckle out of what he said.

"That's not the only extra thing we brought," said Mark.

"That's right," said Brian, "we also got some clothes and some toys. Why don't we put away the food and then we'll divvy up what we've got. We weren't sure about sizes and stuff, but we have a lot of most everything."

Some of the magic of Winter Camp came back for a few minutes as everyone pitched in to put things away and then divide up the newfound booty. Most of the clothing went to the guests, some of whom hadn't changed in over a week. Everyone seemed very happy, and Jeff decided to mix up some punch and serve some cookies to help preserve the festive spirit; a few people even sang some Christmas carols and a good time was generally had by all. No one even noticed that a few people were missing from the celebration.

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