The Scout

Chapter 7

By Dwayne MacInnes

Once the Twin Cities were far behind him, Scott pulled the Charger over at an abandoned rest stop. The neglected buildings where weathered and battered by time and the elements. The roof of one building was missing; either it had been torn off by a tornado or collapsed from heavy snow. Scott did not bother to investigate; he was more concerned with the state of his vehicle.

A scout's car was his life. It was reminiscent of the days of the old west, where if a cowboy's horse turned up lame while out in the desert his chance of survival were seriously diminished. That was a major reason why cars from the sixties and seventies were preferred to newer cars by the scouts. It was paramount to have a car that could survive a lot of punishment.

In the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, automobile manufacturers started making cars that would purposely absorb the damage with crumple zones so that the passengers would survive while the car would not. That was not the case nowadays. If you lost your car in the Wastes, you were lost as well. It was better to die in a good car than to survive a wreck in a ruined car.

Fortune smiled upon Scott once again. By some divine miracle, his .50s had survived without a scratch. Other than scraped paint, the Charger was in tiptop condition. The scout jumped back into his vehicle and proceeded down the old battered highway.

Rest of the trip through Minnesota was relatively uneventful. While crossing into North Dakota, Scott had to take a wide detour around the ruins of Fargo. His Geiger-counter clicked madly indicating that the radiation from the nuked city was still dangerously high.

On the far side of Fargo as the sun was starting to set, the sky suddenly began to turn green. Scott knew the signs of a tornado well enough. The wind started to pick up and a smattering of rain began to fall. He had once seen a noonday turn as black as moonless midnight as green clouds blocked the sunlight before a tornado ripped through the area. He knew he needed to find shelter quickly before he was caught in one of nature's furies.

Scott quickly scanned the horizon for a depression or an overpass where he could hide. All that he saw was smoke blowing up and rapidly dissipating in the rising wind. Scott inwardly groaned at the sight. It went against his better judgment. Hell, it went against the rules of being a Scout. However, Scott still had a conscience, and he needed to investigate the smoke.

Scott accelerated towards the smoke rising from the ground. As the distance closed, the scout noticed the wreckage of some kind of vehicle burning on the side of the road. This could be a trap by wasters to ambush a scout; it had happened so much in the past that the government did not allow scouts to investigate wrecks. However, Scott could not live with himself if did not try to at least help someone who was in need.

Plus, this was highly unlikely to be a trap. What waster would hide in ambush while a tornado was brewing in the Wastes? As the Charger approached the wreckage, Scott recognized that it was a Subaru Outback lying on its side in flames with a smashed camping trailer burning behind it.

Subaru Outback

Scott pulled the Charger over behind the wreckage. The natural light was rapidly fading and the flickering illumination from the fanning flames revealed the bodies of two adults on the side of the road. Scott ran over to them, but they were now beyond his help. The man and woman thrown from the vehicle left mangled bodies twisted upon the hard packed and uncaring earth.

The scout started to trot back to his car when a muffled noise reached his ears above the rising wind and rain. At first, Scott thought it may be a trick of the wind, but he heard it again. It sounded like a moaning. Not the moaning one heard from a mutie caught in mad fury and agony, but the sound of a person in pain. Scott quickly ran towards the source of the moan.

He was having a hard time locating the source in the little light reaching him from the burning wreckage. The rain pelting him now mercilessly turned the unrelenting ground into a slick surface. The mud sucked his feet into the mire threatening to rip his boots off; fortunately, Scott had securely tied them to his feet.

Scott was about to face the inevitable and leave the poor victim to his or her fate if he could not find him or her. The storm was brewing itself up into a ferocious state and Scott would have to return to his car and find shelter fast.

Then there was one last moan and Scott looked over in the direction it came from. There lying on the ground appeared to be a boy of about ten or eleven his blond hair plastered to his head by the rain. He was unconscious and a quick examination revealed no broken bones. In another time, it was best to leave a victim lay until help arrived. Those days were long gone now.

Scott scooped the boy into his arms and, as quickly as he could in the driving wind and rain on a slick and sticky surface, made his way back to the car. Scott lowered the passenger seat as far back as it would go and laid the boy upon it. Then he quickly jumped into the driver's seat and raced the Charger down the old interstate, hoping to find shelter.

The sky was now completely black; the rain fell upon the vehicle as if it was caught in a waterfall. The wind tried to force the car off the road. Scott turned on the front camera with its low-light amplification. The monitor's black and white image was all Scott had in which to navigate.

Then two things happened almost at the same time. The thump of a small stone fell upon the roof the car and the clicking of the Geiger started to increase. If Scott did not find shelter fast, he would find himself caught in the middle of a radioactive tornado storm.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 22, 2007 5:00 PM.

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