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At the End of the World: Chapter Twelve

       Last updated: Monday, May 25, 2020 19:15 EDT



August 6 (second entry)

    I had to stop writing because there is some serious shit going down. I thought everyone was done for the day, after catching a drink together in the pub — well, the room the station team has decorated to look like one. But then I heard the captain slip back out of the house where they’ve put us up. So I slipped off my bed and crept out the door after him, toward the outbuildings and the pier.

    Okay, I just read what I wrote, and realized it won’t make any sense to anyone else who might read this. Hell, if I read it a few months or years from now, it might not even make sense to me.

    Once we’d made the Voyager fast at the end of the pier, we started a walking tour of the station. But the captain missed a step when he heard there were only nine staff at KEP. “Who’s missing?” he asked.

    The man who’d spoken to us before — Lawrence Keywood, the station leader — shrugged, “Robertson.”

    “The Government Officer? Why?”

    Keywood shrugged. “He has family on the Falklands, so when the comms from Port Stanley started getting odd, he packed up and left on Pharos. That was six weeks ago.” He sighed; the snow crunched under foot. “I told him that, to my mind, he was heading the wrong way. But it was his family. He had to try.”

    “You never heard from him?”

    “No. About four days after Pharos left, the Commissioner’s Office sent a coded general directive over the emergency frequency. No further transmissions from any settlements or bases other than their own station at Port Stanley.”

    Our captain just nodded. It was Willow who asked, “Why?”

    Keywood tried to act like her uncle and did a lousy job; he’d watched too much Masterpiece Theater, I guess. “My dear girl, they did not say.”

    Captain looked sideways at the station leader with the same expression he had used back when we were still making beginners’ mistakes at sailing. “They need the facts, Larry.”

    “Larry” got flustered, then annoyed. “The fact, Alan, is that Port Stanley did not say why we were to stop transmitting.”

    “They didn’t have to say. You knew.”

    Willow looked at the captain. She was getting more, not less confused. “He knew what?”

    “That Port Stanley was trying to protect the other communities, keep them from pointing to themselves with radio transmissions.” When the captain saw that half of our group still didn’t get it, he threw a long, bony hand back in the direction of South America. “Plagues breed pirates, bandits. Not the kind who are after money, but who are after resources. And any place operating a radio is a target for them. It’s a place where the infected haven’t overrun everything, a place they might not have found. Nothing is worth more than that, right now.”

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