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datatime: 2022-12-04 07:01:00 Author:gZRZWHvx

Rockson and his Freefighters pulled up their sleds in front of the blackened crumbling structure and gingerly stepped into the ruin. It was dark inside, they lit a flashlight. Rockson gasped as his beam hit a human face. McCaughlin shouted, "Watch out -" and drew his shotpistol, before he realized the face was familiar.

"Let's move on," Rockson said.

Eagerly he played the light across its contents. "Direction readings," Rock yelled exhultantly. "Run Dutil took bearings and direction readings with a sextant. And there are some notes describing the places they stopped."

Danik took the lead, and they passed a lifelike statue of Teddy Roosevelt riding a horse in the Battle of Bull Run, and then a replica of President Bush signing the Martial Law decree in the Oval Office. They finally came to the Rotunda Room. Light spilled in from above through a hole in the ceiling. The snow flurries drifted in on the figure of John F. Kennedy sitting in his rocking chair. He was staring forever at the three astronauts in spacesuits that had returned from the moon and were coming in to receive his accolades. A tattered and mouse-eaten American flag hung disintegrating on a pole nearby. JFK was up to his knees in snow.

"Let's move on," Rockson said.

"His top hat don't look too good." Rona said. Indeed it didn't. There was a pack rat sticking its nose out of the decayed fabric.

The dogs were howling and yapping, apparently happy to be on the trail again. They didn't like the President's museum much, it seemed.

The building was a two-story affair nestled in the midst of a flat area covered with snow - a parking lot of old. The big rocks had shielded it from the blast effects - everything else in these parts was flattened. It was partly collapsed. Danik was besides himself with feelings, and his voice was choked up when he said, "Through that second door - that's where my best friend and I stumbled frozen and hungry into the building."

Eagerly he played the light across its contents. "Direction readings," Rock yelled exhultantly. "Run Dutil took bearings and direction readings with a sextant. And there are some notes describing the places they stopped."

The building was a two-story affair nestled in the midst of a flat area covered with snow - a parking lot of old. The big rocks had shielded it from the blast effects - everything else in these parts was flattened. It was partly collapsed. Danik was besides himself with feelings, and his voice was choked up when he said, "Through that second door - that's where my best friend and I stumbled frozen and hungry into the building."

The building was a two-story affair nestled in the midst of a flat area covered with snow - a parking lot of old. The big rocks had shielded it from the blast effects - everything else in these parts was flattened. It was partly collapsed. Danik was besides himself with feelings, and his voice was choked up when he said, "Through that second door - that's where my best friend and I stumbled frozen and hungry into the building."

They quickly made for the boulderfield Danik had indicated. Rockson hoped that any roving scavengers attracted by the body of Run Dutil would not have eaten his notebook as well - some species of high-plains bobcat ate even metal cans

They all chanted an amen in unison, and then went back and spread out their maps, and compared them to the notes from Run Dutil's little pad. Rockson drew some pencil marks on the maps, using the meager angles and sun-elevation heights that Dutil had jotted down. He drew estimated margin-of-error lines too - dotted lines that were as much as ten miles to one side or the other of their new route. Then they were off on their quest for Eden.

"It wasn't like that when I was here two weeks ago," Danik gasped. "There was no hole in the roof."

"It should be over there - in the shadows - propped up against the wall. We found a steel box in here, all rusted and jammed closed. Some other hapless wanderers must have brought it here - we found disintegrating skeletons on the second floor, next to charred wood on a sheet-metal plate. When Run and I broke open the box, we found some canned goods inside. Must have been decades old, but we cut them open and ate the stuff. It tasted flat, but it wasn't spoiled. Canned Soviet-label meat. It gave me the strength to go on, but Run was sickening from a snake bite he got the sixth day out of Eden. He threw up the food and convulsed and died. I was - was too weak, delirious, frightened. I left him - and his notebook of our travels - right where he died." Danik's voice trailed off. He looked down.

They all chanted an amen in unison, and then went back and spread out their maps, and compared them to the notes from Run Dutil's little pad. Rockson drew some pencil marks on the maps, using the meager angles and sun-elevation heights that Dutil had jotted down. He drew estimated margin-of-error lines too - dotted lines that were as much as ten miles to one side or the other of their new route. Then they were off on their quest for Eden.

Detroit rummaged around and found the toy sextant Run Dutil had used for compiling his meager notes in JFK's plastic hands. It would be useful, for if the navigation device had some error in it, they could take that into account in plotting their trek south.

"I remember this place," Danik said, "the President's Museum is about a mile away from here - just beyond those boulders shaped like a pile of kid's blocks."

"It should be over there - in the shadows - propped up against the wall. We found a steel box in here, all rusted and jammed closed. Some other hapless wanderers must have brought it here - we found disintegrating skeletons on the second floor, next to charred wood on a sheet-metal plate. When Run and I broke open the box, we found some canned goods inside. Must have been decades old, but we cut them open and ate the stuff. It tasted flat, but it wasn't spoiled. Canned Soviet-label meat. It gave me the strength to go on, but Run was sickening from a snake bite he got the sixth day out of Eden. He threw up the food and convulsed and died. I was - was too weak, delirious, frightened. I left him - and his notebook of our travels - right where he died." Danik's voice trailed off. He looked down.

Rockson wondered how they would spade the ground outside, seeing that it was frozen solid. Then he said. "We can roll some boulders over him - better that way - the animals can't get at him."

They came over the ridge and looked down on a glassy-surfaced blackened plain. "That's the area that took a nuke bomb hit back in the twentieth century," said Rockson grimly. "The heat of the air-detonated blast melted the sand into that shiny surface. Not a thing grows there to this day. You notice that there is no snow on that mile-wide plain either. There is still some heat from radioactive elements in that surface - hence the clicking you hear on the Geiger attached to the front of my sled. Let's give it some room."

The building was a two-story affair nestled in the midst of a flat area covered with snow - a parking lot of old. The big rocks had shielded it from the blast effects - everything else in these parts was flattened. It was partly collapsed. Danik was besides himself with feelings, and his voice was choked up when he said, "Through that second door - that's where my best friend and I stumbled frozen and hungry into the building."

Rockson and his Freefighters pulled up their sleds in front of the blackened crumbling structure and gingerly stepped into the ruin. It was dark inside, they lit a flashlight. Rockson gasped as his beam hit a human face. McCaughlin shouted, "Watch out -" and drew his shotpistol, before he realized the face was familiar.

Detroit rummaged around and found the toy sextant Run Dutil had used for compiling his meager notes in JFK's plastic hands. It would be useful, for if the navigation device had some error in it, they could take that into account in plotting their trek south.

Eagerly he played the light across its contents. "Direction readings," Rock yelled exhultantly. "Run Dutil took bearings and direction readings with a sextant. And there are some notes describing the places they stopped."

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