After the Apocalypse
Chapter 98: A Small Request
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
Emily had been around Winter Camp long enough to figure out who the radio people were. One evening after dinner, she pulled Mark aside for a personal matter.
"This has to be completely confidential. I don't want the kids to know about it. Do I understand correctly that you've made contact with survivors in Hawaii?"
"The remains of the federal government, in fact. Yes."
"And there's not as much damage there, right?"
Mark sensed a hopeful rise in Emily's voice. "As far as I know. I think they said that the islands had been spared."
"Can you contact them again?"
"Can I? Yes-we know they're monitoring all the time. Is it a good idea? You tell me. You've got a better idea about how much the Razers care about radio silence. Besides, what's the point?"
"My son and daughter-in-law were in Hawaii when the bombs hit. I want to know if they're still alive. And so do Jenny and Timmy, I'm sure."
"Aha. Where were they staying? Which island?"
"Could be tricky-the government's on Oahu, and I have no idea what sort of inter-island communications might have survived. Of course, there'll probably be ham operators on Maui who could link us all up. But that brings us back to the risks inherent in crossing the Razers. Can we broadcast without raising their ire?"
"If they know where we are, it would seem that they don't care enough to eliminate us."
"And if they don't? Do we want to risk them finding us now?"
Emily sounded desperate. "Mark, I need to know what's happened to Keith and Becky. They're my family."
Mark thought that that didn't separate Emily from anyone else at camp-no one knew about their families, and everyone wanted to know. On the other hand, he thought, here was someone whom he could help, and for whom the uncertainty could easily be lifted-he had faith in amateur radio operators, and he was sure that someone on Maui would be able to track down the Coopers. The remaining question was the one that no one could answer-how much of a threat did the Razers present?
He wondered also how closely the content of their radio messages was being tracked. If the messages going back and forth between Honolulu and D-A were clearly of a humanitarian nature, would anyone object? And hadn't Emily mentioned that Keith was part of the Razers? Might that help?
"Isn't your son part of the Razers?"
"Yes. I wish he wasn't. Why?"
"I was wondering if an intercepted message clearly concerning one of their own might pacify the Razers. If it's us looking for him, and he's one of themů"
"Maybe. I wouldn't try to predict what those nuts would do. Remember that their #1 goal is to keep the Russians from bombing us again. I don't think they're ever going to be too happy about another signal on the air if they think it'll bring on another attack."
Mark remembered something that McCormick had told him. "But I doubt that the Russians are equipped to retaliate anymore. We heard from the Feds in Honolulu that there was an actual nuclear war-which means-I think-that America got off some kind of a response. They haven't detected any radio coming out of Russia, either. And that could mean that the infrastructure there is as kaput as it is here."
"The Razers probably don't know that. But even if they did, would they really want one of their own mixed up with us here? After what happened when we were coming back with Joe and Dave?"
"It's not like Keith would be joining us here from Hawaii-they'll be stranded there for quite awhile, I would think."
"True. So is there a way we could merge these two messages?"
Mark paused for a moment, composing in his mind. "Something like 'Following up on your report of a successful American counterattack against the Russian forces, we are looking for information about a family member who was on Maui when the attacks happened', perhaps?"
"That might work."
Mark was still haunted by the possibility that his radio work might have given away Winter Camp's location. "Look, at least for now, I think there's still too much risk in broadcasting again. But when we get a chance, I'll make the call."
Compassion and common sense had battled to a draw.
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