After the Apocalypse
Chapter 64: A Plan Thwarted

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Joe's apprehension was not without foundation. The building that he and Dave were investigating was indeed territory held by the Night Razers. However, the hazards contained in the building were only three-dimensional-while they were in a dangerous space, they weren't there at a dangerous time. Miller and Zaluski had placed their first sensor here, on the roof, and had long since left the area.

They found a locked door on the leeward side. Despite the cold and wind, Dave's fingers were nonetheless nimble enough to pick the lock, and they eased the door carefully inward. Joe was expecting an attack, but nothing but dark silence greeted them.

"Keep the flashlight off," said Joe. "If anyone's nearby, I don't want them spotting our lights through the windows."

"There're windows? Then why did you make me pick the lock? Wouldn't it have been easier to go in through the window?"

"Easier? Sure. Smarter? No way. We'd have to break the glass, and that would be a giveaway. Also, if there were sensors on the windows, we'd set them off."

"And if there was a sensor on the door, we've already set it off."

"Yeah, but I didn't see anything there. Face it, we're already at risk just by being here-but we're only risking ourselves. If we cause an alarm, we might be threatening everyone back at camp-and that's not fair. Our first responsibility is to them."

As they grappled with the ethical issues, they pair worked their way through the building, which appeared to have been stripped of all its contents and then abandoned. They found no obvious passage to the roof, though.

"Are we gonna have to climb up the outside?"

"I hope not," said Dave. "There ought to be some sort of roof or attic access through some kind of panel-we just have to look harder. It might be in a closet somewhere, for example."

The second pass proved more successful-the panel they sought was in a bathroom ceiling and was evidently carefully concealed against casual discovery. Joe boosted Dave through the opening and climbed up himself into the unfinished crawl space. A similar panel allowing access to the roof quickly gave way, and they were soon standing around the second tripod.

"Same deal," said Dave with relief. "I'll have it reversed in a minute, and then we can be on our way. Block the wind for me, will you?"

Joe circled around Dave and then turned to face him. "On our way where? What's next, anyway?"

"I dunno. Maybe we should try and stay in out of the storm until daylight. There's no way we can get back to the truck without risking our lives."

"And by extension, everyone else's. You think this place'll be safe?"

"As safe as anything. After all, I doubt that anyone's gonna come out in this weather, even if they think the sensors are mixed up. I don't know exactly what they're expecting to find, but I can't imagine anyone with such raging paranoia that they'd consider radio transmitters a greater threat to their health than this weather is."

"I'm not so sure about that," said Joe. "I mean, if this is, say, some sort of survivalist rig-those guys can be flat-out nuts sometimes. It wouldn't shock me-if this is some of them-if they were around. Or were walking a perimeter and came through here from time to time."

"They'd have to be awfully committed nutcases to do that."

"The 'awfully committed' nutcases are probably the only ones who would've survived this long."

Dave didn't respond right away, as his work on the wires was nearing an end. "There. Got it. Let's get back inside and figure out our next move."

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