After the Apocalypse
Chapter 9: The Morning After

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Most of the campers slept fitfully, concerned for the well-being of family members who had missed the anniversary and worried about what the new day might bring. Brian Mann did not sleep at all. He had volunteered for radio duty. Every hour, he turned on a portable radio for five minutes to see if the emergency broadcast network had managed to reset itself. By 7:00 am, it was clear that whatever had happened was fairly serious; the network had not come online and the radio remained silent.

The rest of the campers and their guests began to get up and make preparations for the move. Steve Harig was the first to venture outside and his report was rather bleak. In scanning the sky, he had not noticed a single jet contrail, and there was a thick cloud cover, which obscured the sun. Although it was an hour after dawn, the day looked more like twilight than the bright morning they'd expected. As everyone filed out onto the porch to look at the sky, the mood was somber and dark.

John stood on the porch with his wife Jaime whose face was buried in his shoulder. She had brought the kids up to camp, but her mother had canceled at the last moment. Her sobs were not the only ones that cut the stillness of the morning air. As they silently marched back in to begin collecting things, Dave Milon announced that he was going to "take a drive" to see what was going on. Tim Hunt quickly decided to join him. Tim's wife and daughter had been on their way to camp and had never arrived; he was eager for news of their whereabouts.

"I'm not sure that's a good idea," said Ron, "it's possible that you could be placing yourselves in danger. I think we should go more slowly, make sure we know what we're up against before we do anything reckless."

"That's easy for you to say," spat Tim; "you know where your family is and that they're okay. I don't and it's tearing me up inside. I should be with them. It's Christmas; I never should have come here!"

"All right Tim, easy now." said Steve Donohue soothingly, "Whatever's happened there's no way you could have foreseen it and there's no sense blaming yourself now. I don't think there's any point in trying to talk you out of this, but let's use our heads for a moment."

Mollified by Steve's acceptance of his goal, Tim became more reasonable. He had been afraid that the others would try to keep him there.

"First thing, let's make sure our vehicles are going to work. I thought the EMP of a big nuke was supposed to wipe out electrical systems," said Steve.

"I think if we'd been close enough for the pulse to affect us, we'd all be dead," said Jeff, displaying his usual tact.

"Okay, if they work, then we should make sure you aren't driving into danger unprepared. Even if there's no danger from radiation, there's almost certainly some danger from other people. I would guess there are a lot of panicked survivors out there and they might do just about anything to get things they think they need," said Steve.

"True," said John. "Dave and I will head up to the barn and see if we can find some weapons. We should probably siphon gas from some of the cars to make sure they have a full tank."

"Okay," interrupted Brian, "you can take gas from my car, I don't think it'll be one that we need in a pinch."

Everyone laughed at the thought of taking Brian's '78 Pacer out for a long trip. There had been a pool on whether it would make camp at all. Brian had won when he pulled into camp, but the car had just sputtered to a stop and thus far, not even Doug had been able to get it going again.

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