After the Apocalypse
Chapter 5: A Minor Irritant

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

The Russian assault came on during the Anniversary Banquet, as Winter Camp's official clock lagged eight hours and 43 minutes behind Moscow. Winter Camp was only tangentially affected by the horrors ravaging the rest of the world, a fate that could later be ascribed to curious geographical features and a fluke weather system which had hit Michigan that evening. The first sign that anything was amiss was when the power went out in the D-A dining hall during the ceremonial taking of photos of each returning crew. Distant sirens were briefly heard in the sudden darkness, but the dining hall's emergency lighting kicked in as designed, and no one saw any need to stop the photography.

When the lights were still off after an hour, concern rose as to the cause of the blackout. There was no apparent storm which could have knocked out power, although it seemed possible that a distant blizzard might have been responsible. A quick survey of the immediate area indicated that nothing was obviously out of place.

Mike was the first to suspect that the problem might be on a wide scale, and rushed to his car to search the radio for information. He returned to the main room with an ashen face which nobody could clearly make out in the dim light.

"All the commercial bands are out," he said. "There's not even anything on the emergency channels. This is big, guys, a major blackout or something."

"No distant AM stations?" asked Mark. "It's nighttime; we ought to be able to raise something like Cincinnati or Boston."

"I didn't listen real carefully, but there was nothing loud," said Mike. "I think I would have heard them if they were on the air at all. But I can't be sure."

"I don't think it's a good idea for anyone to leave tonight," said Jeff. "If this is a blackout, even restricted to this part of Michigan, we're probably safer staying put for the night."

"Have we got enough space for everybody?" asked Tom.

"We've got the whole camp, even if there's no electrical power," said Steve. "Lodging isn't a problem, although it might not be the most comfortable. It's only for one night, after all."

Meanwhile, a group of Scouts had drifted out to the dining hall's porch, where they seemed transfixed by a distant glow in the night sky. "The Northern Lights!" cried Adam "Pockets" Pezet. "Cool!"

While it was not common to see the aurora from D-A, neither was it unheard of, and the small crew gazed in silence at the display over the Friendship Center's roof until Ron Donohue realized that something wasn't quite right.

"Uh, guys," he said, "we're facing south here."

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