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|Prairie Dog State Park Kansas||39.804316||-99.954987|
|Name||Age||Eye Color||Hair Color|
Hunter turned his head and looked back to the west. His heart sank as he saw over half a dozen other distant mushroom clouds, some of them so far away they had to be in Nebraska and Colorado. As a matter of fact, there was nowhere he looked where there was not a massive plume rising into the air. "Oh my God, it really happened!"
Devin moved up and knelt. "Look, there ain't much we can do about a nuclear war, but you are the best we have in first aid and we NEED Mr. Korbal!"
Angus watched in stunned disbelief as the closest clouds continued to rise in the air. For a moment he was so fixated on knowing he was watching the death of an entire city, he almost missed the multiple lines of smoke leaving the ground and arcing high overhead. As his brain finally processed them he felt a wet spot appear on the front of his pants as he pointed. "Guys, we're striking back!"
Six heads turned in unison. All held their breaths as a multitude of smoke trailing dots streaked overhead. Finally Hunter broke the silence. "Guys, do any of you know anything about radiation and stuff?"
No one spoke for several seconds. Ramsey and Gage both broke into tears while Vernon had a wet spot of his own suddenly appear in the front of his pants. Finally Zeki spoke up, "Mr. Kobal was Army, him must know some stuff."
For the first time since joining the scout troop, none of the others corrected Zeki's mispronunciation of a name. Instead they all turned and looked back at the terribly injured assistant scout master.
Almost two full minutes went by before Devin patted Hunter on the shoulder, "Dude, Zeek's right. You got to make him wake up!"
Hunter let out a long breath, "I'll try… He then glanced up and pointed to a windmill pulling water out of the ground for nearby cows. "While I do what I can, the rest of you fill up everything we can before the radiation gets here. We know we're going to need fresh water, and…" He let out a short sob.
Once again Devin put his hand on Hunter's shoulder. "Nothing was real close so we must have some time. Just try to see if you can make Mr. Korbal wake up. I'll get the others to refill all our water bottles and the collapsible jugs we brought."
Hunter said nothing. Instead, he glanced at the first aid section of his scout book and shoved it back in his pack. He knew what he should do while he also realized what he had to do were not the same. The first aid kit had smelling salt, but waking up a person who was probably in shock was not the best idea. Still, he felt he had no other choice. He broke open a capsule and pushed it under the man's nose.
Mr. Korbal jerked and his eyes popped open. He tried to sit up but fell back, stifling a scream as he did so. Seeing Hunter and feeling the boy's hands holding his head he swallowed hard. He noted he tasted an awful lot of blood as he did so. He gritted his teeth and forced a slight smile. "Thanks kiddo."
Hunter swallowed hard, "You're hurt real bad…"
Steven managed a slight nod, "Yeah, I really bit it. I bet it would make good money on a blooper show if one of you got it on camera."
Seeing his attempt at humor had failed he lifted up his good arm, noting as he did so his knuckles on his hand had been skinned down to the bone. "Hey, buddy, I live. As soon as the ambulance gets here…"
Hunter broke down, "We can't call anyone…"
"In a dead zone, huh?" Steven managed another grin in an attempt to calm the boy.
Devin came back over with a full squeeze bottle. "Can we give him water?"
"I'm awake…" Seeing the tears in the second boy's eyes caused his brow to crinkle in concern. "Was one of the others hurt?"
"No…" Devin whispered. He then glanced over at Hunter, "Have you told him yet?
"Told me what boys?" Steven demanded to know as he forced himself to sit up. As he did so, he could clearly see the mushroom clouds of what had been Topeka and Wichita only minutes before. He felt his blood run cold and even though the pain in his chest was terrible his mind blocked it out. "Oh, shit!"
Devin wiped tears away from his face, "There're lots more too… and the phones are all dead!"
Steven winced as he turned to scan the horizon. Almost everywhere he looked there were distant signs of a massive thermonuclear attack. His heart raced, "Where is the closest?"
Hunter pointed to Topeka while Devin pointed to Wichita. At the same time Zeki moved up and pointed northwest in the direction of North Platte, Nebraska.
Steven took a few seconds to scan the entire skyline. "Guys, I think smaller warheads probably hit Kearney and Salina, so there is radiation only seventy-five miles away or so. You all have to get under cover and wait out the first rains!"
"You guys?" Angus demanded to know as he came over with two full, five gallon, collapsible containers. The fact the twelve year old could carry both of them without help showed just how strong he was for his age. "What about you?"
"Leave me. You have to get inside where no rain can get to you!"
Hunter shook his head, "No way!"
"Not going to happen." Angus quickly agreed. "We have to find shelter somewhere close by."
"There was the abandoned farmhouse we just past." Ramsey joined in the conversation. "It couldn't be more than half a mile back."
"Then what?" Gage demanded to know.
"Look, I know you are new here, newb," Angus spoke with a degree of authority. "So you probably don't get the idea, no farmhouse, abandoned or not, comes without a cellar in case of tornados. We take as much water as we can grab and get there, hunker down and wait for rain…" He stopped and glanced over to Mr. Korbal. "When do you think it will rain?"
"Probably soon," Steven stated as he forced himself to get to one knee, with his other foot planted on the ground, albeit with the help of both Devin and Hunter. "There has got to be a massive amount of water being pumped into the atmosphere, and it will want to come back down." Realizing the kids were not about to leave him, he decided to save a few of them. "Tell you what, why don't a couple of you help me, the rest of you grab the water we have and ride with it between two of you. This way you can get to the farmhouse, find the storm cellar and get it ready for us. Your bikes are going to be important, so we have to get them all under cover so the fallout doesn't cover them."
Hunter looked over to Angus, "You are probably the best to carry the water, but you're also the best chance we have of getting Mr. Korbal back there in time."
Angus didn't hesitate in nodding. "I'll help you." He then turned to Devin, "You are the assistant patrol leader. The other five are yours. Get there and get it ready. We'll need a clean spot for Mr. Korbal, so his bandages stay as clean as we can keep them. Also, check and see if it has a well; if it does, pump as much water as you can find into whatever place you can find to hold it. We may not be able to pump from it after it rains radiation on us."
"Surface water will be contaminated, for sure." Steven corrected the youngster, "But well water should be OK. Dirt is the best way to filter radiation contaminated water, so a well is actually the safest place to find good water. If the place does have a well, do what you can to cover anything sticking up out of the ground."
"How will we know what we can drink and can't?" Ramsey asked with a whimper and a quivering lip.
"I'll talk you through how to make a filter using pebbles, dirt, a couple of towels and two buckets. But you all have to get to the farm house and get it ready for the rest of us. We don't have much time."
Angus helped pull Steven's pack off and then single shouldered it while grabbing his bike with one hand and Hunter's with the other. "I'll get all this, you help Mr. Korbal."
Hunter helped Steven up to his feet, and watched as the man almost blacked out again. Fortunately, the twenty-eight year old former Army Ranger forced himself to stay standing, even as pain tore across his chest.
Angus watched as the man wobbled some while gritting his teeth. "Take it easy Mr. Korbal, all we have to do is walk back down the road."
Hunter glanced over, noting his friend was a bit staggered by the weight of his pack and Mr. Korbal's but it didn't stop him from making sure he had both bikes by the handlebars. "Why did the others elect me as patrol leader and not you?"
"Cause you're smart; I'm just a dumb football player." Angus teased then pointed, "It's just past those trees Mr. Korbal, you can make it!"
"Football player yes, dumb… not by a long shot." Mr. Korbal managed to get out through clenched teeth. "And Hunter, don't doubt yourself. You were picked as leader because you are a scout at heart. You have earned more merit badges than any kid your age ever has in this troop and you know the handbook better than most people know their phone numbers." He stopped talking as the pain became worse. Each and every step he took was doing more damage to his chest and he knew it. However, if he could make it to the farmhouse, he could pass on what he knew. It would give the seven scouts a fighting chance to survive the coming horror.