After the Apocalypse
Chapter 49: Joe and Dave's Adventures In Lapeer
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
Joe and Dave decided that who they were wasn't going to change, but that they'd only be able to figure out what they'd been doing for a short time. The snow was already beginning to obscure their tracks, and it wouldn't get any easier to track them. They were pretty sure the men wouldn't have come out in a blizzard unless they were doing something important, and they wanted to know what that was.
They traced the jeep's track about three-quarters of a mile and found a strange contraption sitting on the top of a small rise. It appeared to be a gun-like object with a parabolic dish mounted on a tripod. As they approached the thing seemed to spring to life, and both of them ducked quickly. The barrel rotated past them, with a gentle whirring noise and the thing stopped pretty much where it had started.
"Think it knew we were here?" asked Joe.
"No," said Dave, "but let's just wait for a few minutes and see what happens."
Dave looked down at his watch and waited for the next rotation. Three breathless minutes later, he said "I think it's some kind of scanning device. I'm not sure what the dish is for, but it basically performs a 360 degree scan every minute."
"Scanning for what?" asked Joe absently.
"Most likely for us," said Dave, thinking it was a serious question. "My guess is that it's some sort of directional radio gizmo. Probably those guys have picked up our signals and are trying to triangulate our location."
"Great. Why would they want to find us?"
"Hard to say, could be they're looking for supplies, could be they just want to find other survivors."
"Okay, so what do we do?"
"Well, I don't see anything to link this back to their base. Why don't we get a closer look and see what we can figure out."
The two of them approached the unit and looked at it carefully. The gun portion appeared to exist purely to balance the dish on top. The unit was clearly rigged up with radio gear and a pen; Dave let out a low whistle.
"I think this thing picks up signal strength and logs the direction of the strongest signal using this pen gizmo. It's pretty cool though, the recording mechanism is kind of ingenious. I'd like to meet the guy who made it."
"Uhm, sure," said Joe, "except for the part where they might be trying to hunt us down and kill us, that would be really cool."
"Oh yeah," said Dave, sounding genuinely surprised. "So what do you think we should do?"
"I'm not sure. Breaking it would draw attention to us being here, but I wouldn't want them to find us with this gizmo. I mean, if we're going to have other survivors show up at the ranch, I want to do it on our terms, when we know they're coming. I guess the best thing is to disable it and make it look like storm damage."
Dave looked the gizmo over. "I think I might have a better idea. The motor on the tracker must run on batteries. These paper marks show only variation from the starting point."
"So," said Joe, becoming a little impatient. Dave had a bad habit of getting caught up in the details of gadgets and forgetting his focus.
"So, I think if we reverse the polarity on the motor, we can make this thing read pretty much backwards. So instead of saying we're south of here, it'll say we're north."
"Well, it should. The alternative is some more obvious form of sabotage, and I don't think we're ready for that. Besides, this is better. They must have another one of these units somewhere. If we can find the other one and reverse it too, they'll wind up with the wrong triangulation of our location."
"And if we can't?"
"They'll wind up with two lines that either don't cross or do cross but are pretty obviously the wrong location. A lot of it will have to do with where they put the second unit. Either way, they'll have to try again before they can find us."
"Okay, I'm sold. Do it."
Dave waited for the machine to cycle, then switched the two wires that were connected to the motor. "With any luck, they'll think they made this mistake themselves."
"Great," said Joe. "Why don't we find somewhere to hole up until the blizzard subsides a little?" "Well, first we should see if we can find the other one of these things."
"Okay. Any idea where we should look?"
"Hmm. Well, they were west of here when we saw them. If that was their base, then if there's another one of these, it's probably either right near their base, or further west. That'd make it easier to check on them - if they were both within a mile or two, rather than spread way out."
"That makes sense. I guess we go west."
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