After the Apocalypse
Chapter 69: Before the dawn

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

It was just after 5:00 am when Dave suddenly sat bolt upright. Joe felt him move and leapt to his feet, ready for danger.

"What's going on?" he asked, scanning the darkened garage nervously.

"It's not going to work," replied Dave. "Reversing either of them means you get two lines that don't cross, but reversing both of them gives you the location backwards. We need to do something else."

"What," asked Joe, suddenly nervous.

"I'm not sure," said Dave, suddenly wishing he'd spent more time studying geometry. "I mean, what we're giving them now if they come out is a pretty good chance of finding us. Once they realize the wires have been reversed, they'll just reverse the directions."

"Okay," said Joe, "let's change the starting orientation. They expect it to start from North and rotate clockwise. Let's just move the tripod so it points more or less east."

"That might work," said Dave. "Hang on."

He began casting about for something to write with and found nothing. He ripped a couple of pieces of molding from the paneled wall of the office. Noticing Joe's curious stare, he explained "I just need to see the lines. Now, this is us. We know the other beacon will point roughly northwest now, right?"

"Yes. And this beacon we're at now will point roughly the same direction." As Joe spoke, Dave laid the sticks on the ground. "I get it," said Joe. "We don't want to point it east, we want to point it west."

"I think so," said Dave, "that way we'll be able to send them north of town. We have to undo the reversing thing too."

"Okay, so we could just leave it reversed and point it east, right."

"I suppose."

"Good, let's do it that way. It'll be harder to spot the change if the two units still look more or less identical."

"Good thinking," said Dave, as he moved towards the ladder. Joe followed him and a few minutes later they'd repositioned the tripod, never noticing Landers as he watched them. The storm still raged though, and the blowing snow made it impossible for him to see what they had done. He watched them go back into the building and when they didn't come out right away, he woke Peterson up.

"Get up Jim, I think we need to move now."

"What? Now? Why, it's still dark and look at that snow."

"I know, but they're on the move already and I don't want to lose them."

"Alright, I'll be back in a few."

Peterson carefully made his way back to the stairway of the hospital to retrieve a few more shepherds. He wound up with six more men, all of them heavily armed and prepared to do what it would take to save themselves and their families. They rejoined Landers outside and the eight of them discussed their plans for capturing the intruders before moving stealthily towards the garage.

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