After the Apocalypse
Chapter 80: Confirmation
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
In the middle of a routine radio contact with the Canadian survivors, Mark's flurry of Morse code was suddenly interrupted by a burst of conversation from Hawaii. The government project broke in with its distress report, but no one in Nunavut heard it. It fell to Mark to receive the first message from the islands; no one in the room as the conversation evolved would ever forget the words.
"Mayday Mayday Mayday, this is NJ6UEM calling KC8DPX. NJ6UEM calling KC8DPX."
Mark's initial reaction was a surprised irritation-who, he thought, would be interrupting the relatively casual chat with Canada? The amateur broadcasting code required that he respond to a distress call, however, so after he determined that Frenechet's crew couldn't hear the other operator, he signed off that conversation and turned to the nearby microphone.
"This is KC8DPX responding to NJ6UEM. Go ahead, NJ6UEM."
"KC8DPX, this is the United States government broadcasting from Honolulu, Hawaii. What is your location?"
The obvious question-"What is the U.S. government doing broadcasting from Hawaii?"-raced through Mark's mind, but he fought it off long enough to respond. "We're outside Metamora, Michigan. What's going on out there? What government agency are you with? Go ahead."
"This is Mitch McCormick, calling from the radio control room of United States President Melinda Arkwright." At that revelation, there was a considerable intake of breath among the half-dozen Winter Campers in the room; nobody knew offhand who Arkwright was or why she would be passing herself off as the President. "We have been searching for American operators for several days; ever since the Russian attack."
Mark broke in. "What Russian attack? You know what's happened to the world?"
"We think we do. As far as we can tell, there was a revolution in Russia that included an invasion of Alaska on December 29th and 30th. This seems to have triggered a nuclear war. We don't know what the conditions are like in their country, but it's not looking good for anywhere else-we have as yet found no other survivors. Hawaii's pretty much okay, but we just don't know anything else-that's why we've been monitoring all the ham bands."
"Who's Melinda Arkwright?"
"She was Secretary of Commerce before the bombing; as far as anyone knows, she's the first person in the line of Presidential succession who's still alive. Until we hear differently, she's running the country. Whatever's left of it, that is. Do you know of any other survivors in your area? This is NJ6UEM, go ahead KC8DPX."
"This is Mark Bollman, KC8DPX. Some of our patrols have turned up a few survivors, but we don't know how many there might be. We've sent several search patrols both north and south of our location. We're at a Boy Scout camp, incidentally. We did find a group of Girl Scouts at their camp nearby, but they're with us now. We've also been in contact with a group of about 12 survivors in northern Canada-Iqaluit. We've been trying to monitor the bands too, but we've got to conserve electricity-we don't have enough power to do this 24-7. The Canadians, by the way, can't pick up your transmission-I was in contact with them when you broke in."
"We didn't hear them, either. Northern Canada? That's all? No other Americans?"
"Not that we've heard, but like I said, we haven't been able to be really vigilant. There's about 100 people here, including some kids, and it's been a pretty constant battle just trying to keep everyone decently warm and minimally fed."
"I would imagine. So what kind of monitoring schedule are you on? Just in case we want to reach you again?"
"We're generally on the air briefly at the top of every hour during local daylight. That would be…let's see, that would be…" Mark's voice trailed off as he quickly tried to convert Winter Camp Savings Time to Greenwich Mean Time. "1300 to about 2300 UTC."
"Okay, we'll keep that in mind. We're monitored 24-7 by computer or by operator, so if you discover anything new or something you think we should know, call us anytime."
"Got it. Thanks for calling, Mitch. KC8DPX out."
McCormick signed NJ6UEM off the air and crossed the radio room to a large map of the United States that hung on one wall. With a ceremonial flair, he took a red pushpin out of the nearby desk and stuck it in the map near Lapeer, Michigan.
"Sir? We've picked up a transmission."
"They claimed to be the US Government, transmitting from Hawaii."
Hawaii, well, that made sense - it probably wasn't a target, although it would leave the US Fleet pretty strong.
"There's more sir."
"Yes sir. They got an answer from someone local. It appears those transmissions we've been tracking were coming from D-A."
"D-A? The Scout camp? Rouse the troops."
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