After the Apocalypse
Chapter 99: Raggedy Man
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
"Base this is Delta. Do you read?" came Steve Harig's voice over the radio.
"Roger, Delta this is Base, go ahead," John responded, curious about Steve's sudden formality.
"I've got someone entering the camp. He's in sight at Trout Lake. How should I proceed?"
"Please verify. It's just one guy?"
"Roger that. One guy, looks like government issue. Carrying a non-issue rifle. He may be following the tracks from the herd. He's now heading towards the dam. He seems to be looking for someone."
"Keep out of sight, but maintain visual surveillance. We'll send out a team."
John set down the radio quietly. They'd known someday that this could happen, but had never expected it so soon. He cursed Jeff's decision to drive the cattle to camp, certain it was the source of this invasion.
He decided to respond with an A-list group to capture and detain the man who had entered camp. He didn't want to use the radio, so he sent Mark up to High Point to find Hartwig and he went to Beaver Creek himself to find Dr. Beast. His team was assembled in less than 10 minutes, not bad given the distances involved.
He surveyed the crew he'd chosen for this mission: Dr. Beast, Mark and Tim Hunt, Rob Hartwig, and Lou Pezet. He figured Dr. Beast could approach the guy, while the others kept him covered. He'd wanted to send Milon instead of Lou, but Dave was on guard duty. Likewise, Joe Hall and Dave Woods were busy stringing fence for "Rand Acres" as the makeshift cattlefarm was being called.
"Harig picked up someone entering camp a few minutes ago. His progress towards BC has been continous but slow. Steve is reporting that he appears to be sick, exhausted or both. He's had him under surveillance. In ten minutes, the man has made it only from the area of Trout Lake cabin to the top of Hill Top. We need to stop him, find out what he's up to and determine how to proceed. Your job is to intercept him, perform some initial interrogation and determine his disposition."
He paused a moment for his words to sink in, then continued, "The use of deadly force is authorized should he prove to be a threat to Winter Camp or its future."
In the hush that followed John's pronouncement, several of the campers took in air sharply. The Beast spoke saying "Hopefully, that won't be necessary. Let's keep this under wraps as much as possible. Everybody gear up and let's move. We'll have to pass Rand and his crew and that's about it. Keep your head down, keep moving and if anyone asks, it's only a drill. Let's move."
The five men rose almost as one and quickly exited Clearwater cabin. They immediately headed northwest, across the bridge and down the trail that would dump them near the Midway Fork. They moved at a brisk pace, jogging until they broke cover, then walking quickly up the road, towards Hill Top cabin. Ron hoped to catch the interloper in the wide open space near the corral where he wouldn't have anyhwhere to hide. They arrived. Harig called on the radio to tell them the man had stopped to investigate the shower building and, he thought, to use the latrine.
Several tense minutes went by before the man stumbled into view. He made it halfway across the clearing before Ron stepped out of the woods about 40' in front of him.
"My name is Ron. I'm the law around here. Who are you and how did you get here?"
The man looked startled for a moment, then began to move toward his gun for an instant. Whether he was aware of the five guns tracking him or not, he stopped and dropped his hands to his sides.
"Sorry Sir. My name is Miller, I walked here. I'm trying to get to Flint to find my wife." his voice traled off as he thought of his missing wife.
Ron picked up the tone and changed the subject, "Where were you before the incident and what brings you to D-A?"
"I was on duty at Selfridge. I'm a reserve there. I was trying to get home. I was looking for a car and saw the cattle, I figured whoever had that herd probably had a car that ran or could get one."
Ron thought about the answer carefully. Reserves probably wouldn't have been serving over the holidays and certainly wouldn't have been allowed to leave once the attacks came. Still, there did seem to be a certain quiet desperation in the man's voice. Of course, that could be stress - if he was a spy of some sort, Ron was certain the other campers would kill him.
"Why were you released from duty? Shouldn't you still be there?"
"My wife's having a baby. She called me to say she'd gone into labor the day of the attack. I was on my way to Flint when things went nuts. I've been walking ever since. You're the first person I've even seen since then."
"Okay, I guess you're alright. Come on Miller, we'll take you over to our camp and you can have something to eat."
Miller seemed slightly surprised when 4 other men stepped out of the woods, 2 in front and 2 behind him. The six began walking back to Beaver Creek. Harig radioed Howey to let him know they were coming, then began his own quiet hike back to his checkpoint.
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