After the Apocalypse
Chapter 41: An Elite Para-Military Organization

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

"No, I'm not kidding, I'm not paranoid, and I'm not making this up. I'm not sure exactly who or what was going on, but I spotted a couple of guys watching us while we were getting ready to leave."

"And they didn't say anything to you at all?" asked John.

"No, and that's not all. When we stopped by the police post the first time, it was badly damaged, but still standing. This time it looked like someone had deliberately destroyed it."

"What do you mean deliberately?" asked Woods.

"As in, Mark thought it looked like someone had used dynamite or something. It was weird. The wall looked to have fallen the wrong way, and there was some carbon-scoring on some of the bricks."

"Okay, so why would someone blow up a mostly wrecked police post?" asked Joe Hall.

"Maybe it was the HIVE," joked John, referring to an old inside joke involving Doug Seman and some of his high school buddies.

"Hey, this is serious," said Steve. "Don't joke around. We know there are other survivors out there, and now it looks like they're blowing the town up."

"That doesn't make any sense," said Woods.

"I never said it made sense. I think we need to mount a mission to town and figure out what's going on. Someone's out there blowing stuff up and spying on us. I'm not too thrilled with the idea of some sort of maniac bombers coming back to D-A looking for supplies or whatever. I think you two could pull it off."

"Why us?" asked Joe and Dave in unison.

"First thing: I'm guessing you guys have at least part of your arsenal with you, right?"

Dave and Joe looked at each other a little sheepishly.

"I thought so. That's a good thing. Shotguns and these pistols aren't any match for serious hardware and if these guys are using plastic explosives, chances are they've got more serious weapons too. Second, you can do it willfully. If I go back, people are going to think something's up. You two can just pretend you're sick of camp or whatever and leave one night. That's the other thing, I think you should park pretty far out and walk in while it's dark out. My guess is we'll be better able to spy on these guys at night."

"Okay," said Woods. "I guess I'm up for it. When do we go?"

"The sooner the better," replied John. "And don't be afraid to pick up more supplies while you're in town-if there are other people looting the place, we probably need to get ours first. With over 100 people here, we're going to go through that food pretty fast. We're using up almost thirty pounds of meat every time we have a meat dish."

"Well, with Jeff doing the food, it's probably more like twenty pounds," joked Joe, and they all shared a good laugh.

"When do you plan to leave?" asked Steve.

"In about twenty minutes," replied Woods. "I've got to make sure my guard shift is covered and get dressed and that should just about do it."

"Cool. Don't tell anyone what we're up to, I don't want to cause a panic."

Joe and Dave left Clearwater and walked across the road to Beaver Creek. They grabbed their cold weather gear and headed up to the showers to get dressed. They didn't talk much, but they had a lot of questions about the whole thing that they hadn't asked.

John suffered from no such problems, though, he began grilling Steve for more details as soon as they'd left. "Why didn't you guys tell us about survivors the first time?"

"It didn't seem like a big deal. There were only a couple of people and they were pretty much like us, just scavenging food."

"Didn't you ask them for news?"

"No, it wasn't like that, we just didn't talk to them."

"What do you mean you didn't talk to them? They might have had some idea what was going on."

"Look, I don't care, okay? They're dead now. Leave me alone."

Steve left, not bothering to look back. He exited the cabin and immediately crossed the bridge behind Clearwater. He didn't know what he was doing or where he was going exactly, but he felt a strong need for some rest and some solitude, two things that had been in short supply for the last few weeks. He didn't look back or he might have seen John peering out the open door, straining to see him in the near-blizzard conditions.

"What did he mean, 'They're dead now'?" muttered John to himself.

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