After the Apocalypse
Chapter 44: Where Are They Now?

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

"Did they say anything at all about where they were going?" asked Jeff.

"I'm pretty sure the two of them were headed for town," replied John, "but Steve didn't say anything; he just sort of walked off into the snow."

"And he wasn't mad or upset or anything?" asked Mark Hunt, wondering if perhaps Steve had finally snapped.

"Well, I'm going to go find him," said the Beast, his tone indicating a certain finality of decision.

"I don't think you'll have much luck," said Mark Bollman. "From what John's saying, he left late last night. Almost a foot of snow has fallen since then. There's no way you'll pick up his trail, with the wind howling like it has been. I'm sure he's fine." Mark wasn't entirely sure, but he believed that if any of them would be fine in this situation, Steve would be one of them. He wasn't stupid and he wouldn't take his life in his hands for nothing.

"Look, maybe you guys aren't thinking about this, but if he's out there, he doesn't have any electricity and if he doesn't have any electricity, he's not using the Vader box."

"Oh shit," said Lou. "I hadn't thought of that."

"No kidding," replied Ron.

"No, I mean, he hasn't been using it. I haven't heard it once since the power outage. I wonder if that's why...", Lou said, allowing his voice to trail off to nothing.

"Why what?" asked Jeff, his curiosity on the rise.

"Nothing," said Lou, casting a sidelong glance at Mark Hunt. "I'm sure he'll be fine".

"Well, I'm not, and I'm going to go find him."

"Look, Ron, we know you're worried, but we also know your brother," Jeff interrupted. "If he's left, he's got a reason for it, something that someone isn't telling us about." He paused to cast suspicious glances at John, Mark Hunt and Lou. "Any of you want to tell us what's going on? Did he have something to do with the other two going to town? What secret is it that you're all keeping from us? We need to know; our own survival may depend on it".

John thought for a long moment, then realized that as Security Director, he needed to report on this potential threat and prepare everyone for it. "There are other survivors in Lapeer," he began, "Lou and Steve saw some on their first trip and this time Steve said there were a couple of guys just watching them and it scared him. He wanted Dave and Joe to go into town and try to figure out what was going on. I asked him why he didn't try to talk to the survivors, and he lost his cool and left."

"There were other survivors?!" asked Ron. "Why didn't you guys tell us?"

"It's not that simple," said Lou. "I didn't see any yesterday, but there were some the first time."

"Okay, so why didn't you tell us? It might have been a way for us to find out what was going on. Maybe they need help too, or maybe they could help us. Are you guys nuts? This isn't the sort of secret you should be keeping, what if they..."

"Slow down," interrupted Mark Bollman when Doug tried to take a breath. "Let's take it from the top, it won't do any good blaming people and getting huffy about this."

"Sorry," said Doug, "it's just that..."

"Tell them." said Mark Hunt.

Lou looked at him questioningly for a second before Ron interrupted.

"Tell us what?"

Lou took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to explain what had happened. It didn't help, the only answer seemed to be the truth.

"The first time we were in town, Steve killed a couple of guys."

"He what? I don't believe it." interrupted Ron.

"Look, he did it. We were in town, at the K-Mart. We spotted a few cars, one of which Steve thought looked like it hadn't been there for long. When we checked, there was a guy inside and someone had shot him in the chest with a shotgun. We figured that meant there were other survivors, but we didn't see any at first. We took stuff from K-Mart, then Grundy's and finally Radio Shack. When I came out, there were two guys with guns. They caught me totally off guard. Anyhow, they started asking me where I was from and where I was going and why I needed so many radios. I told them I was local and trying to sell the stuff. They didn't believe me. One of them told the other to beat it out of me. As he was coming at me, Steve shot him with a shotgun. The other one reached for his pistol and Steve shot him too. After that, we saw some other survivors, not a lot, but a couple. We decided they were dangerous and we didn't talk to them. I didn't see anybody this time."

"Neither did I," said Mark, "but maybe Steve did. He's been getting a little weird about the whole thing."

"That's got to be the understatement of all times. He hasn't killed a bug in like twenty years or something, how the hell could he kill a guy?" said John.

"I don't know," said Lou, "when I asked him he just said 'I don't intend to lose', and that was it."

"Well, now I know I have to find him," said Ron.

"Maybe not," said John. "I think he might be trying to work some of this stuff out. We need to give him some space, let him get his head on straight and come back to us. I think he'll be okay."

"Sure, why not, he's out there with no food, no shelter and no Vader box, I'm sure he'll be fine," complained Ron sarcastically. "Maybe you guys don't care, but he's my brother and I'm not leaving him to die or kill himself."

"You might be right," said Doug, "he might be trying to kill himself. I just don't know if finding him is practical right now. Why don't we wait until nightfall to look for him? During the day, he'll be impossible to find, but he'll have to build a fire tonight and we should be able to see him. Besides, unless this storm lets up, looking for him probably puts us in more danger than he's in now. I don't think we want to put any more blood on his hands."

Ron wasn't really happy, but he had to admit that Doug was probably right. D-A wasn't huge, but there wasn't much chance that he could find Steve on his own and the snow probably was dangerous. Besides that, if he waited until nightfall, he could get a few more people to help him without creating a panic.

"Okay," he said, "what are we going to tell people? They're bound to notice the three of them are gone; I'm sure a few people saw Dave and Joe leave last night."

"Let's just say all three of them went in for some more supplies but that we think they've been cut off by the blizzard. That's a pretty believable story and it'll help keep things calm. For now, we'd better beef up our security a little and see to it that everyone's comfortable in the storm."

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Outside Clearwater, Katie could scarcely believe what she'd just heard. She'd been coming in to ask Jeff about an envelope, but had overheard them saying something about Steve killing a couple of guys. Now they were just going to leave him, a killer, on the loose somewhere in camp and not warn anyone about him or that there were other survivors. She thought about barging in and demanding an explanation, but then realized she needed to calm down herself before she pursued this. She retraced her steps back to Chippewa to think about what to do next.

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