Chuck had set the place up all right. There were six five gallon buckets with lids full of clean water. There was a sink in the basement as well with little water pressure, but we could use the drain to dump dirty water down. There was another bucket with a toilet seat on top set up behind a screen. Next to it were several rolls of toilet paper (stolen from the restrooms in the school no doubt) and a smaller bucket containing white powder ("Lime I swiped from the chemistry lab" Mike told us, "to cut down on the um, smell").
There was a half dozen car batteries (I found out later they were deep cycle batteries) on the floor which previously had been connected to a wall socket. Next to that was an old bicycle with an auto alternator attached ("somebody put that together upstairs for some project. Pedal the bike and charge the batteries"). The batteries were connected to the strings of LED lights Mike had strung across the ceiling which provided sufficient light in the basement.
There was also a single burner hot plate on a folding table along with a stack of plastic and paper plates, plastic cups, forks and spoons all liberated from the teachers lounge and the school food court.
Chuck had purchased some food from the store the day before and brought more with him today. That and all the food we had taken from the vending machines and our rooms ("Thanks, Allen") should hold us for awhile. There was also a big cardboard box full of paperback books and magazines he had brought from his room and other places.
There was a radio as well. Chuck explained how he had connected the antenna aerial to a pipe which ran through the ceiling and through which he hoped he could obtain a signal. He turned on the radio, and like Curtis' cell phone, had been shielded by the basement from any EMP damage. At first, we could not pick up anything, but after three or four passes through the AM band, found a faint signal from a station further east of us.
What we learned in those precious few minutes changed our lives forever and which led me to where I am today. I don't remember where the station was broadcasting from or who was speaking. The war had indeed escalated and while we were pulling together our stuff and getting downstairs, several cities in the US and around the world had been hit with what were presumably nuclear weapons. It was believed that New York City, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle had been hit as well as Washington DC. My sister lived only five miles from ground zero and unless she and my parents had made it somewhere safe, there was little reason to believe they were still alive.
Shortly after we found the broadcast, it went off the air without reason. We could never pick up that station again and it was some months before I heard another radio broadcast.
Talking out loud, Chuck made up some story that my family, due to my sister's important job and contacts, were certain to have had notice and managed to get out of town before things went up. He also hypothesized that the overloaded cellular network or even an early EMP negated their ability to phone me before the bombs went off. I knew then he was only trying to make me feel better. In spite of the amount of work needed to unpack our stuff and make our shelter manageable, I took my stuff to the corner of the room, sat down and put my head on my knees. Sometime afterwards, I must have fallen asleep.
Be Prepared For Anything Survival Guide