After the Apocalypse
Chapter 82: Diversion
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
The convoy proceeded south as the sun slowly dipped behind the horizon. Radio chatter was, at Woods' suggestion, kept to a minimum. Jenny was sulking in the backseat of Joe's truck, still upset they had left town, even though she knew it was probably the right thing. Emily had also grown strangely silent and Joe was respecting their respective decisions, concentrating on driving and wondering what the outcome of this expedition and indeed their whole trip, would be.
He had no doubt the strangers would be warmly received at camp. With over a hundred mouths to feed, three more would make little difference. On top of that, the supplies the newcomers were contributing would probably feed the entire group for a couple of weeks if they were carefully rationed - with Jeff at the helm, Joe was sure that wouldn't be a problem. He was a little more concerned though about their pursuers, who were clearly well armed and intent on protecting their zone. Scavenging Lapeer for food wasn't likely to be an option after this, and those men might seek vengeance for their slain companions. He knew that's what he'd have done if one of them had actually hurt a Winter Camper.
His musings were suddenly interrupted by the harsh blare of the radio. "Joe, you're about to miss the turn" came Lou's still excited voice.
Joe tapped the brakes and felt the vehicle begin to slow. He realized that Lou's warning had come too late and he had to come to a stop and back up to make the turn.
"Nice drivin', Tex", came Mark's voice over the radio. Joe was angry for a moment, more at his own inattentiveness than at Mark's comment, and he was reaching for the radio to scold them when he heard the welcome sound of Jenny laughing. It was infectious and moments later, as they pulled onto Sutton Road, all three of them were laughing.
"We're going to make a couple of stops," said Mark. "We'll see you back in camp; we shouldn't be more than a half hour behind you."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" asked Woods echoing Joe's own thoughts.
"Not entirely," said Mark, "but we're going to do it anyhow."
"Ok," said Joe, "but be careful."
"Roger," said Mark and then the radio was silent.
It took a long moment for Steve to realize what the odd sound was he was hearing. It was an oddly pitched him, coming from the kitchen of Lang where he and Brian were pulling guard duty.
"Oh lord!" he cried, suddenly realizing the source of the hum. "It's the sensor, someone's pulled the switch."
"What do we do," asked Lenz, sounding a little timid.
"You run down to Clearwater and tell Howey what's going on. I'm going to grab another Walkie Talkie and head towards the bridge to see if I can get us a little warning. I'll be on channel 69."
"Ok," said Lenz, not quite getting Harig's joke. Both of them pulled on coats and headed down the hill towards the fork. Brian headed downhill towards the trail while Harig, breaking into a trot, headed uphill towards Hilltop. As he ran, he unslung his rifle and made sure it was loaded and ready. He wasn't sure what he'd find, but he figured it would have tires.
He had barely made it to the corral when he saw the lights of the oncoming vehicle stabbing into the trees. He threw himself to the ground rolling behind the "Welcome to BC" sign and then into a standard prone position with the rifle pointed generally at the road ahead.
"I see them," he said into the radio.
"Roger," came John's voice. "Can you identify them?"
"Not yet," said Harig, "Hold on, I think it's Joe. It looks like his truck. I think there's an old lady with him. I'm going to flag them down."
"No, don't!", said John, but it was too late. Harig had already stood up and was waving at the oncoming truck. Joe saw him and slowed to a stop. Dave, cresting the hill behind him, did the same.
"What's going on man," said Joe as Steve approached his window.
"Not much, you just triggered our alarm is all." replied Harig.
"Alarm?" asked Joe. "What alarm?"
"When you crossed the bridge."
"Oh. Why do we have an alarm?"
"Report. Report! We need a situation report immediately. Harig, what the hell is going on?" came John's voice over the radio.
"D'oh!", said Steve as he turned his attention to the radio. "It's Hall and Indian Guy. They've got two trucks pretty full of stuff and a couple of more refugees."
"We're not refugees!" complained Jenny. "You're the ones who are refugees, refugees from some bad Twilight Zone episode or something!"
"Sorry," said Steve, "my mistake. They've got one old lady and one bitchy chick. Now get a move on, I've got to go reset the sensor."
"Ok," said Joe, not bothering to mention that Lou was coming and would set it off again.
"Is that all of it?" asked Dave
"Think so," said Mark, "at least I can't find anymore."
"Cool, let's get a move on. Maybe we can still make it back in time for dinner."
"Good idea. But this stop was a better one," said Lou.
"No doubt," agreed Mark as the three of them got into the now very full Explorer and headed for camp.
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